More than two in five (43%) US adults say the state of the nation it is fair while 40% say it is poor, according to results of a new Harris Poll. Meanwhile, just 3% of US adults say the state of the country is excellent and another 14% say it is good.
Majorities See Military, Economy Not Going Well
One reason Americans may not feel that the state of the country is going well is due to the fact that majorities give negative ratings to nine different current issues. Looking at defense and national security, about six in 10 US adults give negative marks to how the war on terrorism is going (59%) while slightly higher numbers give negative ratings to the war in Iraq (63%) and almost three-quarters (72%) give negative marks to the war in Afghanistan.
Economic issues fare even worse. Three-quarters of U.S. adults (76%) give negative ratings to how strengthening the economy is going and four in five Americans each give negative marks to how creating new jobs (79%) and making taxes fairer (79%) are going.
However, the worst thing on this list in the mind of Americans is strengthening social security; more than four in five (82%) give it negative ratings. The thing that is going the “best” in the country right now is protecting the environment, as more than one-third of Americans (36%) give it positive ratings and 57% give it negative marks.
In addition, health care reform may have finally passed Congress, but seven in 10 Americans give negative ratings to making prescription drugs affordable (69%).
Economy Seen as Top Focus Area
This poll was taken shortly before President Obama gave his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 25, 2011. By asking what areas he should emphasize in his speech, the poll gives a sense of where most Americans want the government to focus its attention.
When respondents were asked which two issues the president should focus on, two issues clearly rose to the top. More than two-thirds of Americans said he should focus on strengthening the economy (68%) while more than half said he should focus on creating new jobs (53%).
Further down the list, one in five each said Obama should focus on strengthening social security (20%) and making taxes fairer (20%). Just one in 10 or less said the focus should be on the war on terrorism (10%), making prescription drugs more affordable (7%), protecting the environment (6%), and somewhat surprisingly considering how many think the country’s current two wars are not going well, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (6% each).
Gallup: Americans Say Unemployment Top Problem
Americans say unemployment is the number one problem facing the US at the start of 2011, with 29% naming it in a recent Gallup poll. This is a roughly 20% increase from the 24% who mentioned unemployment in December 2010, although the figure ranged from 28% to 33% from August to November.
In contrast, mentions of “the economy” in general as the leading problem have been trending downward since October 2010, and the current 26% reading is the lowest since also reading 26% in May 2010.
About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 18 to 20, 2011 among 2,066 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.