More than three quarters of Americans now believe their kids won’t inherit a better life than the lives they themselves enjoy, according to a far-ranging poll released Wednesday that finds aught but bleakness among most Americans’ attitudes on an array of economic and cultural topics.
Findings in the poll, conducted for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, read like a statistical elegy for America, penned by its own inhabitants.
“Two words sum up the mood of the nation: Fed up,” begins NBC – normally among the mainstream media’s most robust water-carriers for the Obama Administration – in its summary of the poll’s revelations:
“Six in 10 Americans are dissatisfied with the state of the U.S. economy, more than 70 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, and nearly 80 percent are down on the country’s political system, according to the latest NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll.
“The frustration carries over to the nation’s political leaders, with President Barack Obama’s overall approval rating hitting a new low at 40 percent, and a mere 14 percent of the public giving Congress a thumbs up.”
The Obama approval rating is an all-time low, by the NBC/WSJ poll’s count, and falls at or near the level of concurrent tracking polls from other outlets. It also closely mirrors former President George W. Bush’s approval rating at the same point in his two-terms presidency.
Across the ideological spectrum, economic concerns seem to drive the malaise. Forty percent of respondents said “someone in their household lost a job in the past five years.” Sixty-four percent indicated they’re still feeling the effects of the “Great Recession” personally. Fifty-seven percent said they were mad enough to “carry a protest sign for a day.”
NBC presented two “word cloud” graphics, each reflecting the most common phrases that Democrats and Republicans would put on their hypothetical protest sign in that scenario. As different as those two word clouds are (and they indeed are very different), the one significant phrase both share in common is “Focus on our own country.”
“This is a bad poll for President Obama, and not a good poll for anybody else,” said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who helped conduct the survey.
If you’ve still got an appetite for more, you can see the poll’s full results here.