CNN Poll: Americans more optimistic on state of nation
January 25th, 2011
06:00 AM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: Americans more optimistic on state of nation

Washington (CNN) - Hours before President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address before Congress, a new national poll indicates a surge in optimism about the state of the nation.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday morning, 43 percent of the public feel that things are going well in the country, up 14 points since December. The survey indicates that a majority of Americans continue to think that things are going badly in the country today, but that figure has dropped from 71 percent at the end of last year to 56 percent now.

"We haven't seen numbers this good since April of 2007," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "One likely reason for the change is the public's growing optimism about the economy."

According to a CNN poll released last Friday, the number of Americans who think the economy is in good shape, while not particularly high, is nonetheless at the highest in over two years.

But other non-economic factors are also likely at work, including the psychological effect of starting a new year.

"Over the past two decades, the number in January who say that things are going well in the country has gone up twice as often as it has gone down - sometimes by 10 to 14 points - and it may not be coincidence that the highest amount of optimism ever recorded on this question was just after the new millennium started in January, 2000," adds Holland. "It's also possible that the country's mood was lightened by the relatively civil tone in political debate in the past few weeks, the absence of a projected terrorist attack over the holidays, and the perception that the December session of Congress got something done."

The survey indicates increase in the number of people who think things are going well is highest in the Midwest and among college graduates; urban and suburban Americans also seem more optimistic than people who live in rural areas. Not surprisingly, there is a partisan dimension to this as well - the number who say things are going well is up 24 points among Democrats and 16 points among Independents, but only five points among Republicans.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Jan. 21-23, with 1,012 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Deputy Political Deputy Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: CNN poll • Polls
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. JEJ

    Bad news for republicans. Weren't they supposed to be happy that they "won" the election in November? LOL!

    January 25, 2011 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  2. john, PA

    Optimistic? In what nation did you take this poll?
    9 out of 10 where I work don't agree with Obama, don’t trust Obama, won’t support Obama, sure, you keep asking the same question to the same people. We are at depression levels of employment in America, our government debt is at crisis levels.
    Here what it takes to fix the state of the union:
    Repealing every law passed by the last Democratic-controlled congress!
    Repealing every regulation put into place by the Obama administration!
    Remove every “zar” put into place by the Obama administration!
    Getting the government out of private companies and our lives and pockets!
    Cut taxes!
    Close the border!
    End ear marks!
    It’s time for the new Congress to investigate, prosecute and put these people in prison.

    January 25, 2011 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  3. Gil

    I'm sure FOX and the loony right will find fault in these numbers and will try to spread more doom and gloom from the Party of NO! They are what is pulling this country down!

    January 25, 2011 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  4. Fed Up

    I can sum up the state of the nation in one sentence, and it won't take me an hour of tv time to say it . "The state of the union stinks."

    January 25, 2011 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Just imagine what the optimism would be if the job killing republicans focused on helping Americans instead of playing political theater. While I am sure that putting their efforts to appease 18% of Americans by trying to repeal health reform, 80% of Americans want them to work on creating jobs. The republicans are spending too much time on a social issue that has been addressed in the health reform bill. They either need to lead, of get out of the way.

    January 25, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  6. Eric T

    Thank You President Obama for pulling us back from a cliff.

    January 25, 2011 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Of all the problems facing Americans, our Florida representative in congress, Californian Connie Mack, is concerned about the ". . .Columbia Free Trade Agreement." He has also indicated a willingness to shut down government by not raising the debt ceiling. He must have forgotten that there are a few retirees living in south Florida who rely on social security and medicare, and a government shutdown will have a devastating effect on them.

    January 25, 2011 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    That's simply untrue. That is media hype, for the speech, will be full of rhetoric, and no substance, as usual.

    January 25, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  9. Indy

    Optimism is the enemy of Republicans and the Tea Party. Optimisim prooves that all the lies Republicans and Tea Party tell are not believed. Optimisim is what builds unity and prosperity and moves countries forward.Optimisim is the complete opposite of the Republican/Tea Party agenda.

    January 25, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  10. proud mother of soldier

    I do hope americans remember what Obama preached as a candidate and what Obama did his first two years in office. He will now say anything for re-election and we will begin hearing it tonight. . He is in "candidate" mode trying to save his skin. He is a community organizer who has divided this country like no one ever has. He speaks inappropriately to our chief justices and anyone who does not this a man we can believe and respect? I think not. Thank goodness for a return of balance in government.

    January 25, 2011 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  11. New Age Independant

    Obama always gives a pretty speech. He looks and plays the part, but it's the substance that is in question. He's become one of the most divisive Presidents in our history. The promises he campaigned upon seem to be just a method to be elected. Nw with the massive Democrat failure in the recent election, will he be in campaign mode? Or did he ever stop?

    January 25, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  12. Luke Brown

    Americans whine about everything, and some will never admit that things are better. They also will never give Obama credit for the stimulus money that kept a lot of states and communities from going under. Nobody likes debt, but frankly I like being unemployed worse. Stimulus spending helped me stay afloat.

    January 25, 2011 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  13. Jon Dough

    This is a lot like people mocking global warming, when there is a two day cold spell.

    January 25, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  14. opbilly

    uh oh... this will have every republican politician down on his or her knees praying for a terrorist attack!!! anything to take this man down is their mantra

    January 25, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  15. realitybites

    It can't be all bad all the time. Sooner than later we're going to recover. It's better to start sooner. Rolling around in negativity and partisan posturing is not representative of what the "THE PEOPLE" need just what the opposition want so they can get into office and control. Thank God for a little sunshine in this world of nay sayers and negative Nellies. Hey we're ALL in this together! Do you want to be the misery loving company or do you want get back to better times. Personally, I preferr better times and I think a majority of us do. Rememeber the market is controlled by the human element, not by some mechanical money machine. We're only here once.

    January 25, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  16. gt

    yes america feels alot more confidence with divide government ,,, on party rule does not work well with either party... since the gop took over the house we now can guard against the abuse that nancy and her bullies pull the last 2 yrs..

    January 25, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  17. mark

    of course now that the liberals have been thrown out of the house.

    January 25, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  18. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    To me, it feels like our President has become more concerned and assertive about the citizenry.
    Congress SEEMS like it might try and work for the good of the people.
    America is a team sport, but it has to be a one team sport – America first, last and always.

    January 25, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  19. Bessy

    The economy is improving. Christmas was proof of that. The job situation is not improving, or at the most, improving very slowly. It probably will not improve for a long time. Where are people going to get jobs when there are none to be had. All manufacturing has been out sourced as well as most everything else. Everytime the president wants to do something that will create jobs the Republicans/Tea Baggers fight him.
    Wake up America ! The Republicans created most of these problems and continue to want to keep things this way to make the current administration look bad.

    January 25, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. Dennis

    I sure don't see much to create a feeling of optimism.

    January 25, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  21. Bill

    Then stay out of Illinois. Taxes are up and business is leaving thanks to Chicago.

    January 25, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  22. Annie, Atlanta

    Of course we're more optimistic. We've been programmed to believe if Wall Street is doing well, we're all doing well, facts be darned.

    January 25, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Four and The Door

    The prospects for what lies ahead have become much better in a very clear and tangible way. It happened suddenly, if I remember in the first week of November.

    January 25, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. once upon a horse

    this really can't be good news for the Republicans... any positve change in the economy and the country will be credited to the president since most who are in office usually tend to get too much credit for sucess and too much blame for failures. The GOP mantra for them to get total power in 2012 is for the president to either fail on all accounts or hope that Americans will still fall for rightwing fear tactics coming from FoxNews , talk show hosts, and Tea Party folks who thrive on mis-information. If the economy continues to improve going into 2012 look for more "the president is NOT one fo us" tactics by the far right.

    January 25, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  25. The reality is...

    Riiiiiiiiiiiight..... things are going better. As the water gradually warmed up in the pot the frog didn't even realize what was awaiting......"frog legs anyone?"

    January 25, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
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