Americans Optimistic for 2011

January 4, 2011

gallup-2011-outlook-jan11.gifAmericans enter the new year with considerably more optimism than pessimism about what it may bring, according to results of a new Gallup poll. Fifty-eight percent of respondents say 2011 will be better than 2010, 20% say 2011 will be worse, and 21% say it will be the same.

A majority of both optimists and pessimists are hedging their bets in their predictions for this year, however. The substantial majority of optimists say things will be “a little” better (45%) rather than “a lot” better (13%), and pessimists are more likely to say things will be a little worse (14%) rather than a lot worse (6%). Gallup has not previously asked this question, thus comparisons to responses from previous years are unavailable.

Younger, Democrats More Optimistic

gallup-2011-demographics-jan-2011.JPGDividing respondents by age and political affiliation, results show that younger Americans and self-identified Democrats are substantially more likely to express optimism than older Americans or those who identify as independents or (especially) Republicans.

Almost seven in 10 (69%) of respondents age 18-34 say 2011 will be better than 2010, compared to 58% of respondents age 35-54 and 51% of those 55 and up. Even more strikingly, far fewer of the youngest respondents say 2011 will be worse (11%) than those 35-54 (21%) or 55-plus (25%).

Similarly, 71% of Democrats say 2011 will be better and 13% say it will be worse. In comparison, 57% of independents say 2011 will be better and 23% say it will be worse, while only 48% of Republicans say 2011 will be better and 23% say it will be worse.

Optimism May Have Varying Causes

Americans enter the new year with substantially more optimistic than pessimistic views about what 2011 may bring. Gallup analysis suggests this could represent either the generally optimistic nature of Americans, or it could reflect views of a recovering economy.

Negative Viewpoints Decline in December

Negative perceptions of current and future prospects for the US economy declined during the week ended December 26, 2010, according to other recent Gallup data. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index consists of two measures: one involving Americans’ perceptions of current economic conditions and the other involving their economic outlook. Last month’s improvement reflects more optimism expressed in both measures.

Forty-three percent of Americans called current economic conditions “poor.” This was slightly fewer than the 45% average poor rating of the first three weeks of the month. The percentage of consumers saying economic conditions are “getting worse” also declined during Christmas week, to 57% from the 60% average of the first three weeks of December 2010.

About the Data: Results for this USA Today/Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 10-12, 2010, with a random sample of 1,019 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

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