Overcoming the shutdown: Americans cheer up, but only a little

October 23, 2013, 4:21 PM GMT+0

Democrats are happier now with where the country is headed than during the shutdown, but Independents and Republicans are still gloomy about the future.

The shutdown made some measures of the state of the country even worse than they had been: last week the percentage thinking the country was off on the wrong track rose to 74% in the Economist/YouGov Poll, and 47% -- the highest number in two years – described the economy as getting worse.

This week’s poll, conducted after the shutdown ended, finds America bouncing back to pre-shutdown levels. Nevertheless, those levels are nothing to brag about and the change is limited to one party only. The percentage of Americans now saying things in the country are headed in the right direction has risen seven points, and is back to pre-shutdown levels. 66% of the public - eight points lower than a week ago - say the country is off on the wrong track.

And it’s the Democrats who are leading the way. Although Republicans and independents remain overwhelmingly critical of the country’s direction, Democrats have turned around. Last week, during the shutdown, 60% of Democrats said the country was on the wrong track. This week, just 42% do. Just about the same percentage of Democrats think things are headed in the right direction.

Democrats had been positive before the shutdown.

The Stock Market soared as the shutdown ended, and while it’s hard to view the public’s assessment of the economy in the current poll as anything to brag about, it is better than last week’s assessment. The percentage saying the economy is getting worse dropped seven points to 39%, though it is still higher than it was before the shutdown began, and higher than the percentage thinking that earlier this year.

Americans may have learned to cope with less from the shutdown. In last week’s poll more than six in ten said they know someone who had been affect by the government shutdown; one in five had been personally affected. But the public divides evenly when asked if the shutdown convinced them that many services the government provides aren’t really needed and could be eliminated.

74% of Republicans, 46% of independents and 29% of Democrats agree. This may always be the shutdown lesson, ABC News and the Washington Post found similar results when they asked the same question about the 1995 partial government shutdown.

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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