1250 Broadway, 27th Floor New York, NY 10001


Highest GOP Satisfaction With U.S. Direction Since 2007

by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • 61% of Republicans satisfied with how things are going in U.S.
  • Overall, 29% in U.S. satisfied, including 9% "very satisfied"
  • Americans remain more satisfied with state, local governments

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- About six in 10 Republicans (61%) say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. -- the party's highest level of satisfaction since February 2007. This latest uptick comes on the heels of a major victory on tax reform for the president and congressional Republicans at the end of 2017.

Satisfaction With the Direction of the U.S., by Party Group

Current GOP sentiment about the direction of the U.S. is a major turnaround for a party that suffered depressed levels of satisfaction earlier in the year after a number of legislative setbacks and various challenges to Trump's White House in its first year. After bottoming out at 38% in October, the party's rank and file became gradually more satisfied with the nation's trajectory in the final quarter of 2017. Independents, too, have become more satisfied since October, after hitting a 2017 low of 20% that month. Currently, 31% of independents report satisfaction with the way things are going for the country.

Meanwhile, Democrats have dipped to a new Trump-era low in satisfaction with the nation's direction. The current 7% who are satisfied is slightly lower than the 9% to 16% range previously registered since the president's inauguration.

The latest figures are from Gallup's first measure of the question in 2018, recorded Jan. 2-7. Nationally, 29% of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the U.S., which is on the high end of the 21% to 32% range recorded since Trump became president. Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) are dissatisfied.

One in Four Republicans "Very Satisfied" With How Things Are Going in U.S.

Gallup has periodically asked Americans a follow-up question about the intensity of their satisfaction with the country's direction -- whether they are "very satisfied," "somewhat satisfied," "somewhat dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied."

One in four Republicans say they are very satisfied, but they are more likely to describe themselves as somewhat satisfied (36%). Still, sizable percentages of Republicans say they are somewhat dissatisfied (23%) or very dissatisfied (15%).

Meanwhile, less than 1% of Democrats say they are very satisfied. Nearly seven in 10 say they are very dissatisfied (68%).

Independents' levels of satisfaction are a bit more evenly distributed between the responses, but they are most likely to report being very dissatisfied (38%) and least likely to say they are very satisfied (7%).

Intensity of U.S. Satisfaction, by Party
Are you very [satisfied/dissatisfied], or just somewhat [satisfied/dissatisfied]?
Republicans Independents Democrats
% % %
Very satisfied 25 7 *
Somewhat satisfied 36 23 6
Somewhat dissatisfied 23 28 24
Very dissatisfied 15 38 68
* Less than 0.5%
GALLUP, Jan. 2-7, 2018

Over the past decade, Americans have consistently been most likely to say they are very dissatisfied and least likely to say they are very satisfied.

Currently, fewer than one in 10 Americans are very satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. (9%) and 20% are somewhat satisfied. Meanwhile, 26% are dissatisfied and 43% are very dissatisfied.

Trend in Intensity of U.S. Satisfaction

Americans Remain Much More Satisfied With Their State and Local Community

Americans are far more likely to report satisfaction with their state and local community than with their country.

Though Americans' satisfaction with their state has varied slightly since 2001, the current 60% is squarely within the 53% to 65% range recorded over that time. Currently, 77% say they are satisfied with the way things are going locally, consistent with the roughly three in four U.S. adults who have reported being satisfied with their local communities since 2001.

Americans' Satisfaction With Their State and Local Communities

Gallup has found in polls over several decades that national adults are more trusting of these lower levels of government to handle problems, though there is substantial variation in which states' residents have the most confidence in their state government.

Republicans are more likely than both independents and Democrats to say they are satisfied with the way things are going at the state and local levels. The Republican Party currently holds two in three governors' offices in the country.

Additionally, more than half of the states have a GOP trifecta in state government -- their governor's office and both chambers (the only chamber, in Nebraska's case) of their legislature are controlled by Republicans.

Still, majorities of independents and Democrats also say they are satisfied with the way things are going at the state and national levels, and they have been satisfied in most polls. Both of these groups dipped once below the 50% mark in satisfaction with their state, though at different times -- Democrats to 45% in 2004 and independents to 48% in 2005.

Satisfaction With Direction of State, by Political Party
Satisfaction With Direction of Local Community, by Political Party

Bottom Line

Now that 2017 has been capped off with a major legislative victory and an improved economy, Trump's base is clearly pleased with what it is seeing from the GOP-controlled government. As long as nothing reverses that momentum, Trump will be addressing a particularly energized Republican rank and file in his State of the Union address after a rocky year when they weren't so satisfied with the nation's direction.

Overall, future satisfaction may be driven by how Trump's actions ultimately affect Americans' daily lives. His tax bill, for example, could end up boosting Americans' spirits if it results in more money in their pockets. But as of now, Americans haven't become more positive about this bill since its passage.

Although Americans continue to be more positive about how things are going in their own states and local communities, the Trump administration is in some ways bucking traditional Republican preferences for states' rights and decentralized government by challenging local and state initiatives and laws, including on the issues of marijuana and illegal immigration. How this administration proceeds in 2018 and beyond could imperil how Americans view it, as it could find itself encroaching upon smaller governments that Americans are more confident in and more satisfied with than the federal government.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 2-7, 2018, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.