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Despite negative media, satisfaction with country reaches 12-year high

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Satisfaction of Americans with the direction of the nation is now back to the historical average of 37%, which was first measured in 1979.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States today, similar to last month’s 37% satisfaction rate but marking the numerical high since a 39% reading in September 2005 and higher than at any time under President Obama when it reached single digit levels.

The satisfaction rate, which Gallup has measured at least monthly since 2001, has now topped 35% three times this year — a level reached only three times in the previous 12 years (once each in 2006, 2009 and 2016).

After a January 2006 reading of 36%, satisfaction failed to surpass 35% the rest of that year, and with the economic calamities that followed over the next few years, it descended into single digits in two 2008 polls and has subsequently stayed mostly below 30% under Obama.


The rise in satisfaction over the past two months comes amid a flood of positive economic news — including the shrinking of the unemployment rate to levels not seen in a generation and an economic expansion not seen since the heady days of the 1960s. Black unemployment is the lowest it has ever been and the Hispanic community has also seen unemployment drop to historic levels. This while prominent national news stories have included independent counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation; President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal; and Trump’s negotiations with North Korea that culminated in his historic meeting last week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Polls indicate that even with 90% of the news coverage of President Trump being negatively tilted against him, Republicans and Independents are focusing on the good news and ignoring much of what the media has to say. Dissatisfaction with the media has grown to epic proportions as well. A Monmouth University poll finds that 77% believe dishonest reporting happens and they attribute that not to Russians, but to American media giants like Google, Yahoo News and the cable news networks. Amazingly, that includes 61% of Democrats and 89% of Republicans. And of those who believe it is a problem, 31% believe it happens regularly. The dissatisfaction with the news runs across the board, from national news outlets to big city daily newspapers. News outlets that earn the highest trust are small town newspapers and local news websites not owned by large conglomerates.

Rise in Republican, Independent Satisfaction Pushes Rate Up Over Past Two Months

U.S. satisfaction has averaged 38% in May and June after averaging 29% in March and April. The nine-percentage-point bump between the two periods is entirely owing to increased satisfaction among Republicans and independents, pushing Republicans’ satisfaction to 68% and independents’ to 36%. Meanwhile, Democrats, who tend to view the country through their dislike of the president, rate their satisfaction at 13%. Though there is one caveat with the Democrat numbers. Democrats in areas outside the large liberal cities are far more supportive of the president than their urban cousins. President Trump won the election, in part, by support of rural, small town and suburban Democrats. Their support remains strong and is growing much to the concern of Democrat leaders.

Differences by place of residence, age, gender and education are mostly not as large as by party identification, and the amount of change from March-April to May-June was fairly uniform within the former groups. Democrats were the only major demographic group to show no increase in satisfaction. Those in groups that tend to have more Democrats than Republicans — those younger than 35, city dwellers, women and those with postgraduate work — are least likely to be satisfied, but satisfaction levels rose for all of these groups in the May-June aggregate.

Bottom Line

Though the vast majority of Americans have expressed pride in their country in polls stretching back more than 30 years, their pride has not meant they were satisfied with the way things were going. This has been especially true during times of economic duress — though measuring the public’s satisfaction with the nation encompasses far more than economics.

Now, at the midpoint of 2018, as the United States continues to enjoy a historic economic expansion since the 2016 election, the number of Americans finding satisfaction in the country’s direction is on the rise. This reflects more than a growing comfort with Donald Trump as president; growth in satisfaction has outstripped growth in Trump’s approval rating. When presented with specific policy directions, previous polls have found record approval. When many of those being polled, including young voters and democrats, are told the policy is actually that of the Republican administration, their support immediately drops even though they agreed with the policy.

But the success of many policies doesn’t just stop at economics. The percentage satisfied has risen more over the past two months than the percentage who think the economy is in good shape or the percentage who think it’s a good time to find a quality job.

As the nation moves toward November’s midterm elections, as the Mueller investigation continues to unfold, as Trump continues to surprise both friends and foes with policy achievements, there are a multitude of possibilities for news that could affect satisfaction significantly in either direction.

The news is not good for Democrats. President Trump’s approval rating is now higher than that of Presidents Reagan and Obama during the midpoint of their first terms in office. They both won a second term by record margins.




Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 1-13, 2018, with a random sample of 1,520 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

– the Gallup Organization