Is America still feeling optimistic?

Jamie BallardData Journalist
September 04, 2020, 7:47 PM UTC

In June 2020, most Americans were still feeling optimistic about how the rest of 2020 would go. But as the summer draws to a close, YouGov’s data suggests that Americans are feeling more pessimistic about the future. 

Data from a YouGov poll conducted at the end of August 2020 finds that 46 percent of American are feeling optimistic about their life for the rest of 2020 – marking an 8 point drop.  

About four in 10 (42%) say they are feeling pessimistic about their life for the rest of 2020, which marks an 8-point difference from when respondents were asked this question in June. In December 2019, 58 percent of Americans felt optimistic about 2020.  

To find out more about why people feel this way, YouGov posed the same polling question to YouGov Chat users and found out a little bit more about why people are feeling optimistic or pessimistic about their life for the next few months.  
 
Of the chat users who said they feel optimistic about the rest of 2020, several said it was because they had financial stability. 

"I have a stable job and my friendships and relationships have strengthened over the pandemic. I only see them getting stronger in the coming months." 

Conversely, many of those who said they felt pessimistic about the rest of 2020 said it was because of concerns regarding personal finances and/or the economy.  

"Lost my job, losing unemployment, losing my life as I know it."

YouGov also asked Americans how optimistic or pessimistic they’re feeling about America for the rest of 2020.  
 
On this, just over one-third (34%) say they feel optimistic about America for the next several months. Among chat users who feel this way, many say it’s because they believe their candidate will win the election and improve the state of things in the US.  

"I’m optimistic that America will survive and thrive for the rest of 2020 because once Donald Trump is re-elected everything will go back to normal."

"I believe Biden will win the election. If things keep going as they have under Trump's watch, I am even more positive about it. I think the American people are at a breaking point on how much more bad they can stand!"

Most (54%) people surveyed say that they’re feeling pessimistic about America. The chat users who shared this sentiment also often cite politics as the reason why.  

"While I hope our elections are free and fair and Biden scores a decisive win, I fear what trump will do with his remaining months in office. If trump "wins" again, I fear what he will do with unfettered and unchecked power."

"The media and democrats are setting up a scenario that no matter what the election outcomes are they will continue anarchy in the streets."

Others expressed doubt about how the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to develop.  

"Until there is a working vaccine the infection rate will continue to oscillate up and down as government officials attempt to prematurely return business and schools to normal. This will create uncertainty and fear." 

One user shared this reasoning: “All the fires, hurricanes, viruses, decline in business, incline in pricing. Nothing is going good.”  

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Everyday, members of YouGov Chat are asked to share their opinion on a topic in the news. We allow anyone to take part in these chats, and do not display or weight results in real-time. Instead, to make the experience informative but still interactive, the chat displays weighted data from YouGov Direct to show them how the rest of the country voted. This enables us to pose the question to all, while retaining data accuracy and validity when communicating results.  

YouGov chat seeks to add to the ‘what?’ (the quantitative poll result) by finding the ‘why?” (qualitative open ends) in a member’s own words. Learn more about YouGov Chat here.  

Methodology for the YouGov Daily surveys: The survey is based on the interviews of 6,480 US adults aged 18 and over. Interviews were conducted online August 25 – 26, 2020 and results are weighted to be nationally representative.     

Image: The Gender Spectrum Collection