Mood of the nation: Six-year high in optimism, CNN poll shows
April 12th, 2013
09:01 AM ET
10 years ago

Mood of the nation: Six-year high in optimism, CNN poll shows

(CNN) – As the stock market continues to show record highs, the number of Americans who say things are going well in the country has reached 50% for the first time in more than six years, according to a new national survey.

But that doesn’t mean the country is entirely out of the woods yet. The CNN/ORC International poll released Friday indicates that an equal 50% say the country is in bad shape.

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“The number continues an upward pattern since the summer of last year, when only 35% were optimistic about the country’s conditions,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

While Wall Street shows positive growth, last month's unemployment numbers showed hiring slowed sharply in March, with the economy adding only 88,000 jobs, the lowest monthly gain since last June.

The unemployment rate still slipped to 7.6%, according to a Labor Department report released last week, but that's because nearly 500,000 people dropped out of the labor market.

Nevertheless, Americans haven’t been this optimistic since January 2007, when 57% felt the country was in good shape. That quickly fell to 48% by April of that same year. For more of the next four years, the figure hovered in the 20’s and 30’s, and stayed mostly in the 30’s and 40’s last year.

Breaking down the new 50% number further, senior citizens and rural Americans are those least likely to give a thumbs-up to current conditions. Those between 18 and 34 are the most likely to be optimistic, with 60% things are going well.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, from April 5-7, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK: How happy are you? Add your opinion below.

Filed under: CNN/ORC International poll • Economy
soundoff (428 Responses)
  1. Fubarack

    CNN polls are completely fubar. This is the proof.

    April 12, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. MTATL67

    The number I find most interesting is between the ages of 18-34 60% are optimistic. This also happens to be the largest demographics that rejects the Republicans outdated positions and views.
    Also one of the demographics that increased votes for President Obama

    April 12, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Lars

    Optimistic about what exactly?
    For one the stock market doing well is meaningless to most folks as most are not invested nor can afford to, and the trickle effects of a good market rarely slide down to the working/middle classes.
    Funny the last highest optimistic poll was the year prior to Obama being in office, this CNN poll sounds more like the bogus gun control and pro-marijuana poll numbers, I'm just amazed they didn't fudge the numbers slightly, or maybe they did, to get their side over the 50% so they can claim a majority.
    There are still no decent paying jobs for the working and middle classes with the exception of the medical industry, most of the jobs available especially in tech and manufacturing are well below the national average wages of the past 10-20 years, and there is less and less college aid for those of us who had to switch careers mid-life, I have to pay out of pocket fro my medical and college as I work, thankfully now I have my own biz that makes me 2-3x what I made working 45 a week in the manufacturing arena but still, prices on everything from gas, education, food to medical care is soaring.
    What on earth is there to be optimistic about for the majority?

    April 12, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. MykeTheVet

    I can't believe anyone is still sticking up for Obama at this point. He is a failure, just like Bush. Optimism is not at a 6 year high just because CNN says it is.

    April 12, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. Bluedestiny

    Optimism???? based on what? There is ZERO structural improvement in the national scene or economy. In fact, it's continues to slide backwards with every institution and element of our infrastructure in the U.S. What a joke, CNN.

    April 12, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. Jenny

    Come on, CNN, tell it like it REALLY is!

    April 12, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Ian Monam

    I am a displaced engineer with 19 years of experience in my field. I was replaced by engineers in India who would, and thanks to a lower cost of living, can afford to, work for much less. I also have an MBA from a school that was rated 18th in the country the year I graduated. I graduated with an A- average and worked full time while pursuing that degree.

    While pursuing a new degree/career in nursing, I have worked the last several years for a major retailer, Walgreens. I make 20% less now, than I did the first year I worked there. If I work their for another year, I will see my pay go down by another $4.00/hour. Our CEO, however, saw his pay increased by 36% last year. Prior to that increase, his pay to average worker ration was 80 to 1. It is now more than 130 to 1.

    Six years ago, my wife was laid off from her job of 25 years. Her employer moved the plant in which she worked (my wife worked in the office and not in the plant) from Indianapolis to Providence, Rhode Island. This move was made so that they could eliminate using union workers. Again, the people at the top benefited from destroying the livings of honest, hard working Americans.

    Call me a hater if you want, but I see corporate greed leading to a shrinking portion of the American productivity pie for the people who actually produce the goods and services. I will be 57 next week and have worked very hard since the age of 14. I have spent more than 30 years either working two jobs, or working a full time job while putting myself through school. I see an America that no longer provides opportunity for those of us born near the bottom to climb appreciably, no matter how hard we work. From my perspective, nothing has changed in the recent past to mitigate the damage done by 30 plus years of unabated corporate greed. Nothing is getting better for me and I am not optimistic for my future or for that of young Americans.

    April 12, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. cc

    CNN must have paid the folks they polled $25.00 to get this lying result.

    April 12, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. mk

    Lots of doom and gloom people on here. When my son hears about people like this, he tells them to go live in Haiti. Then you don't have to worry about jobs, healthcare costs, housing costs, stock markets....

    April 12, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. ME

    Lars, thanks for dragging in marijuana to this. It has nothing to do with this article, and study after study after study proves it is WAY less harmful than alcohol. You were brainwashed as a child and I'm very sorry, just like most boomers and most people in general really. It's funny that as soon as I talk about personal liberties with old people, and we agree how people are being brainwashed today, they absolutely refuse to look at marijuana in a different way.

    April 12, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    "CNN will do ANYTHING to prop up Obama!!!" ..... Yeah, like tell the truth Charles.

    Truth has a Liberal Bias.... come out of the Bubble .... there's a real World out here.

    April 12, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Paul Cervantes

    CNN must have polled only those in the White House because here in the real world, optimism is well below 0% and sliding...

    April 12, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. CM46

    In the San Francisco, the economy is visibly better. Restaurants are full again and require reservations. Resale housing is booming. All the mid 20s college grads I know have finally gotten decent jobs and have left their retail jobs. Those jobs are now opening for others.
    I'll agree that the minimum wage is way too low – probably should be north of $12.00 per hour.

    Of course, there are problems but the young people are seeing a light.

    April 12, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Tony

    you should change your name to birddump because it seem to me that you have your head in a bird's you know what. you are talking budget, what budget the paul ryan's? like i said they the redumblicans will vote down anything My President propose.

    April 12, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Ed


    Lots of doom and gloom people on here. When my son hears about people like this, he tells them to go live in Haiti. Then you don't have to worry about jobs, healthcare costs, housing costs, stock markets....
    Tell your son we're almost living in Haiti. Give our 'Failure in Chief' a little more time. He'll get us there.

    April 12, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. CruiseDiva

    You have got to be kidding.....give me some of what the pollster is smoking and maybe I will come out of my depression. "Planning" on taking early retirement and saving every penny I find on the ground AND maxing out my 401(k) contributions. Oh, nevermind.....who cares!

    April 12, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. YEA OK!!

    I am sure the 22-30 demographic is optimistic about graduating college with a good GPA and then spending months looking for a job. Only to find crappy temp jobs that pays like $14 and offers no benefits. Only thing they offer is false hope that if you slave hard enough you might get hired on full time, which of course rarely happens. So you bounce around from temp job to temp job, never making more than $16hr. Meanwhile you are drowning in student loans and asking yourself if you would be better off just saying screw it and going on Welfare. Yup this is what most young people have to look forward to these days. And please stop with the Republican vs. Democrat crap because both parties are working very hard to screw us and working over time in assisting the corporate elite in sending decent jobs overseas so that they can get even bigger bonuses.

    April 12, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. Tony

    Pat Thompson, the people you saw outside a welfare office were Republicans after they lost another election to Obama.

    April 12, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Shra

    Where are all of the articles on the spending? The feds increased spending to the UN, but cut access off to the white house for regular folks. that doesn't of course the rich and famous that visit during the elaborate parties. Where are all the stories that allow people to make a real judgement call? Write about them and that poll will change in numbers.

    April 12, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. scott

    Optimism at a 6 year high for 51% of the population, the Obama supports. For the rest of us, the time can not go by fast enough.

    April 12, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. scott

    Optimism at a 6 year high for 51% of the population, the Obama supports. For the rest of us, the time can not go by fast enough. Cant wait to send Obama packing

    April 12, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. three cheers!

    Good. I agree with most that we are getting better. The cynics.. and I see you there... will have to trudge on. But I believe we are getting better.

    April 12, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. scott

    Lets see, Soda Bans, Gun Bans, lets try to Ban an advertiser of a car race, lets continue to only run anti gun articles. I bet 51% of the population is overjoyed. Sooner or later the worm will turn.

    April 12, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. Larry

    Hey, O'bama finally got optimism up to what it was in the late Bush years! Congratulations, dude!
    I never expected to see a pro-Bush article like this on CNN! ; )

    April 12, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. mitchgam

    As more and more people are turned off by the negativism of the Republican party and the media outlets aligned with them, they realize that while not perfect, things in this country are good and getting better.

    By the time the next presidential election rolls around, due to age and demographics, their might not even be enough Republicans left to even challenge whoever the Democrats put up to run.

    April 12, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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