Americans have mixed feelings about what 2019 will look like for the world — and for their families
At the beginning of the year just ended, Republicans looked ahead to 2018 – the year that had just ended marked the first year in a decade of GOP control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency in a decade. In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, with Americans looking back and looking ahead, Republicans remain optimistic, though a little less so than they were a year ago. Meanwhile, November’s Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives hasn’t done all that much to make Democrats more optimistic about what 2019 will mean for America – or for their own families.
GOP optimism about the year for the world has slipped only seven points, with a similar rise in pessimism. Still, 57% of Republicans are optimistic, compared to less than a third of Democrats. Democrats have changed hardly at all when they look ahead. However, both Republicans and Democrats are somewhat more pessimistic about what the year ahead means for their families.
That may be due to increasing concern about the state of the economy. The turmoil in the Stock Market and the President’s attacks on the Federal Reserve appear to have affected those perceptions: for the first time in more than a year, more people say the economy is getting worse than believe it is improving.
One year ago, Americans overall were more positive. Republicans still are and their opinions have changed little. But more independents and Democrats negatively view the state of the economy. The percentage of independents saying the economy is getting worse has risen ten points; the percentage of Democrats has jumped 14 points.
The increase in economic worries in the last year shows up as well on questions asking the public their views about the future of the overall financial system, Wall Street and other items on the economy.
It hasn’t been a good year for government in general – the President’s approval ratings still hover close to 40% (in this poll, 42% approve, 51% do not). Congress does even worse: only 11% approve and 60% do not. Republicans think a little better of the legislative branch that until this week was in their control (21% of Republicans approve, 62% do not). This is one area where Democrats are clearly hopeful. Half of Democrats believe the last Congress accomplished less than usual. Looking ahead they are more positive.
Republicans are negative about the success of the past Congress. But even more don’t expect much from the Congress that is just beginning its two-year term.
As Democrats begin to announce they want to challenge Donald Trump in the 2020 election, about a third of the public (36% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans) expect politics to be more interesting this year. Fewer expected 2018 to have more interesting politics. But although politics may become more interesting to some, even more say it may not be pleasant. Half the public believes politics this year will be more negative – and Republicans are especially likely to think this.
The number of Republicans expecting negative politics rose 14 points in the last year. At the beginning of 2018, 43% of Republicans expected more negative politics in the year. Last week, looking back through the year, six in ten Republicans said political discussion had become more negative. 57% think it will become even more so this year.