Republicans' satisfaction on four key measures has grown in past year
Democrats' satisfaction with moral and ethical climate drops 14 points
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' satisfaction with four fundamental measures
of the nation's status -- the overall quality of life, morality, opportunity
and wealth distribution -- has been fairly steady as the country transitioned
from a Democratic administration to a Republican one in the past year.
But beneath the surface, satisfaction among Republicans has increased
on all four measures, while Democrats have grown significantly more dissatisfied
Major Shifts in Satisfaction Among Democrats, Republicans
Percentage very or somewhat satisfied with each of the following "aspects
of life in America today"
Overall quality of life
Opportunity to get ahead by working hard
Moral and ethical climate
Way income, wealth are distributed in the U.S.
Percentages of Democrats and Republicans include independent leaners
None of the four measures has changed by more than three percentage points
among the general public since January 2017, at the tail end of Barack
Eighty percent of the public is satisfied with the overall quality of life,
unchanged from 2017.
Sixty-six percent were satisfied a year ago with the opportunity for a
person to get ahead by working hard; 63% are satisfied now.
Thirty-one percent were satisfied with the moral and ethical climate last
year; 28% are now.
Thirty-five percent were satisfied in 2017 with the way income and wealth
are distributed in the U.S.; 32% are now.
The apparent stability of American opinion, however, hides that views on
each item changed by as many as 16 points among either Democrats or Republicans
(with leaners included), including by double digits among both party groups
on satisfaction with the opportunity to get ahead.
Vast Majority Still Satisfied With Quality of Life in U.S.
Gallup first measured Americans' satisfaction with three of the four
aspects of U.S. life in 2001 (the question on distribution of wealth and
income was added in 2014), and quality of life has always scored highest
with the public. Overall satisfaction on this aspect was at its highest
in the first two years, at 89%, and hit a low point of 73% in 2013. (None
of the questions were asked in 2009 or 2010.)
Republicans were generally more satisfied than Democrats during the 2001-2008
presidency of Republican George W. Bush, and in 2011 and 2012 with Obama
in the White House. But their satisfaction dipped to 67% by 2013, compared
with 77% among Democrats, and Democrats stayed more positive throughout
the rest of Obama's second term.
Satisfaction With Opportunity to Get Ahead Rebounds Among Republicans
Roughly eight in 10 or more Republicans were satisfied in the 2001-2008
period with the opportunity to get ahead by working hard, but in 2011,
the first year Gallup measured satisfaction after the financial crash
of 2008 and Obama's subsequent election, a bare majority of 55% said
they were satisfied. That number has grown in each of the past four years,
including a 24-point hike from 62% in 2016 to 86% now. Meanwhile, satisfaction
among Democrats has sunk to 50% this year, one point below the previous
low in 2006.
Satisfaction With Moral, Ethical Climate Matches 2012 Low of 28%
Satisfaction with the nation's moral and ethical climate, which has
never reached the 50% level, dropped below 30% this year for the second
time, matching the 2012 low of 28%. Only 23% of Democrats are satisfied,
significantly below their previous low of 31% in 2006. Republicans were
less likely than Democrats to express satisfaction throughout the Obama
presidency, reaching a low of 19% in 2013 and 2015. Now the percentage
of Republicans saying they are satisfied has risen to 31%, the first time
it has been above 30% since 2008.
Majority of Republicans Now Satisfied With Way Income, Wealth Are Distributed
Since Gallup first asked Americans in 2014 about their satisfaction with
the way wealth and income are distributed in the U.S., the percentage
expressing satisfaction has never risen above 35%, reached in 2017. This
year, Democratic satisfaction reached a new low of 17%, while Republican
satisfaction climbed above 50% for the first time, to 56%.
On one overarching aspect of life in the United States today -- the overall
quality of life -- vast majorities of both Republicans and Democrats express
satisfaction (although Republicans are currently more likely than Democrats
to feel that way).
On another measure of the health of the nation, the moral and ethical climate,
Republicans and Democrats alike are dissatisfied, and almost four in 10
Americans (39%) are very dissatisfied.
But on two other key aspects of life in the U.S. -- the distribution of
the nation's wealth and the opportunity to get ahead through merit
-- the gap that has grown between Republicans and Democrats causes them
now to view the issues from fundamentally different perspectives. Democrats
are split on whether the U.S. truly offers the opportunity to get ahead
through hard work, while the large majority of Republicans think it does.
In addition, a majority of Republicans are now satisfied with the way
income and wealth are distributed in the U.S., but fewer than one in five
Democrats feel that way.
These drastically different viewpoints on two key measures illustrate yet
again the depth and breadth of the challenges facing the two political
parties and the nation's governing bodies.
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. For results
based on each total sample of Democrats and Republicans, the margin of
sampling error is ±6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects
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