Growing optimism that 2015 will be better than 2014

January 08, 2015, 10:28 AM GMT+0

The number of Americans who say that the country is currently on the right track is slowly increasing, along with economic optimism

Americans ended 2014 with some small improvements in perceptions of the President and the country and better things to say about 2015 than they had said about the year before. This week’s Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that small surge in optimism is continuing. Judgments of where the country is heading, while still negative, are about the most positive assessments seen in this poll in more than a year.

This week’s results match the two other best moments on this item during President Obama’s second term. There were similar results, with just about a third believing the country was headed in the right direction, during one week in April 2014 and another in April 2013.

The improvement doesn’t come from Republicans, whose party now controls both house of Congress. Only 13% of Republicans say the country is now heading in the right direction (however, only 5% of Republicans said that a year ago).

The turnaround in optimism from last year is especially noticeable when it comes to where Americans think the economy is headed. This year more are optimistic than pessimistic, just the opposite of what Americans expected a year ago.

Republicans and independents remains pessimistic about the economy, but nearly three in ten in each of those two political categories are optimistic.

There have also been improvements – though not as dramatic – on assessments of the year ahead for the world and for the family. Both Republicans and Democrats are optimistic about their family’s 2015 (independents are more worried, but optimism dominates at all income levels). The usual partisan divisions appear again when Americans are asked about what the world looks like for 2015.

More than a third expect the economy in their part of the country to be better in 2015 than it was in 2014, up from the 29% who thought that would be the case this year. Less than a quarter say it will get worse in their area. There is similar optimism about energy (perhaps fueled by the recent drop in gasoline prices). But there is a division about whether job security will improve, and there are more negative than positive assessments about health care coverage and government spending.

Despite GOP control of both houses of Congress, many Americans don’t believe that will result in less government spending, even though Republicans in both Houses have vowed to reduce spending. Or many people juts expect spending to rise, no matter what. 59% of Republicans think government spending will be worse in 2015 than it was in 2014.

See the full poll results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.