U.S. Satisfaction With Military, Security and Economy Rises
by RJ Reinhart
Americans are more satisfied this year with military strength, security
Satisfaction is down with healthcare, role of the U.S. in the world and
Changes driven by substantial partisan shifts in satisfaction
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ahead of President Donald Trump's first State of
the Union address, Americans are substantially more satisfied with the
nation's military strength, security from terrorism and the state
of the economy than they were at the end of Barack Obama's presidency
in early 2017. Those three issues, along with the position of women in
the nation and the acceptance of gays and lesbians, have the highest satisfaction
ratings among 21 issues asked about. Americans are least satisfied with
the nation's efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness.
Americans' Satisfaction With the State of the Nation
% Satisfied/Very satisfied
The nation's military strength and preparedness
The nation's security from terrorism
The position of women in the nation
The state of the nation's economy
The acceptance of gays and lesbians in the nation
The quality of medical care in the nation
The quality of the environment in the nation
The nation's policies to reduce or control crime
The Social Security and Medicare systems
The nation's energy policies
The level of immigration into the country today
The nation's laws or policies on guns
The position of blacks and other racial minorities in the nation
The role the U.S. plays in world affairs
The quality of public education in the nation
The nation's policies regarding the abortion issue
Government regulation of businesses and industries
The amount Americans pay in federal taxes
The availability of affordable healthcare
The state of race relations
The nation's efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness
*Question not asked this year
These results, from Gallup's Mood of the Nation survey conducted Jan.
2-7, show that Americans' satisfaction with key national security
and economic matters have improved the most from last year. Satisfaction
with security from terrorism is up 13 percentage points, and satisfaction
with the nation's military strength and the economy is up 12 points for each.
While satisfaction in some areas has climbed, it has dropped in others.
There have been declines of seven to eight points over the past year in
three areas -- the availability of affordable healthcare (-8), the role
the U.S. plays in world affairs (-7) and the quality of the environment
in the nation (-7).
Although it ranks near the top of the list this year,
satisfaction with the position of women is down substantially from the 72% of Americans who said they were satisfied
in 2008, the last time the question was asked. This decline comes as Americans
have seen increased attention on allegations of sexual harassment and
mistreatment of women.
Perhaps related to the shift from a Democratic to a Republican president,
most of the changes in satisfaction reflect the issues perceived as
strengths and weaknesses for each party. Americans typically credit Republicans with doing a better job on national
security and defense, while they rate Democrats better on handling the
environment and healthcare.
Large Swings in Partisan Satisfaction Since Trump Took Office
Republicans are more satisfied on every issue tested compared with last
year, while Democrats are less satisfied on most issues. The relative
strength of this movement among the two partisan groups helped determine
the overall gains and losses in satisfaction.
Republicans' increases in satisfaction with the country's military
strength, security from terrorism and the economy are larger than Democrats'
decreases on the same issues, driving the jumps in satisfaction among
Americans as a whole. At the same time, large drops in Democrats'
satisfaction, paired with smaller increases among Republicans, drive the
drops in overall satisfaction with access to affordable healthcare, the
role the U.S. plays in world affairs and the quality of the environment.
The single biggest partisan swing is seen on the economy. Satisfaction
with the economy among Republicans (including independents who lean toward
the Republican Party) has risen 57 points between 2017 and 2018, while
satisfaction has dropped 14 points among Democrats and Democratic-leaning
On other issues, partisan shifts in satisfaction largely cancel each other
out, resulting in little or no change in overall satisfaction. For example,
there is a substantial partisan swing on the country's energy policies:
Republicans' satisfaction with U.S. energy policies is up 23 points,
versus a 22-point drop among Democrats.
Democrats' satisfaction on three issues has risen slightly: the Social
Security and Medicare systems, the state of race relations, and the nation's
security from terrorism.
Although partisans this year differ in their satisfaction on most issues,
they are similar on some. There are five-point or smaller gaps in agreement
between Republicans and Democrats on satisfaction with the strength of
the military (three points), security from terrorism (four points), education
(four points) and abortion (four points). A full listing of partisan satisfaction
with the 21 issues measured appears at the end of this article.
These shifts in satisfaction reflect the partisan lenses that increasingly
color the way the two groups view the state of the nation. Satisfaction
with the economy is a prime example: There are signs suggesting the economy
is improving, but Democrats' satisfaction with the U.S. economy has
dropped. This suggests their perceptions may be at least partially influenced
by political partisanship -- though other concerns such as income inequality
may be at play.
Republicans watching Trump's State of the Union speech will likely
agree with his positive take on a number of other issues he will address,
while Democrats likely will not. These include, in particular, the substantially
different partisan takes on the role the U.S. plays in world affairs and
on energy and environmental policies.
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.