Friday, January 2, 2015

The Growing Discontent over America's Political Divisions

Updated April 2015

The gridlock in Washington had created a political pessimism in America.  Congress is accomplishing little more than nothing and, as shown here, while the President's net approval rating (percent approving minus percent disapproving) is  up from its lows in 2013....

...this is the longest continuous period of net disapproval since he took office in January 2009 as shown here:

A recent survey conducted in December 2014 by Pew suggests that a substantial majority of Americans feel that the United States is more divided than it has been over the past decade as shown on this graph:

Compared to 2009 when the percentage of Americans who thought that the U.S. was more politically divided than in the past was roughly equal to those who felt it was about the same as the past (46 percent to 45 percent), the public perception of political divisions in America has worsened substantially with 81 percent feeling that the nation is more politically divided now in the past and only 15 percent feeling that the U.S. is less politically divided now.

While these numbers are concerning, the future of politic divisions in the United States looks like it might be even worse in the future as shown here:

More than three-quarters of surveyed respondents believe that the level of political division in the U.S. will be the same or worse than it is now with only 17 percent feeling that there will be less political division in five years.

Do Americans think that this political partisanship will hurt the future of the nation?  In a word, "yes".  Seventy-one percent of Americans felt that the nation would be hurt a lot if the Republicans and Democrats don't work together on issues over the next two years and 45 percent feel that they will be hurt a lot personally if the two sides of the political spectrum go on warring.   What is surprising is that both sides of the political spectrum believe that there is little chance that the President and GOP leaders will make significant progress on issues that are of importance to the nation:

Here is a graphic showing how few Americans are satisfied with the performance of Congress:

The two major parties are both very dissatisfied with Congress; only 27 percent of Republican respondents were happy with Congress compared to 21 percent of Democrat respondents (and 20 percent of Independent respondents).

This has left Americans deeply dissatisfied with the current state of the nation.  Only 26 percent are happy with the way that things are and 71 percent are dissatisfied.  Looking ahead, 49 percent think that things will be better in 2015 than they were in 2014 and 42 percent think that things will be worse, the highest level of negativity and the lowest level of positivity since 2007 as when on this graphic:

What issues concern Americans the most?  Here they are in order:

General Economy: 14 percent
Immigration: 12 percent
Unemployment: 10 percent
Dissatisfaction with Government: 10 percent
Political Gridlock: 8 percent
Race Relations: 7 percent
Health Care: 6 percent
Crime/Justice System: 6 percent

The negative perceptions of American voters when it comes to their government is becoming pervasive.  With the 113th Congress accomplishing very little, American voters have every right to be angry.  


  1. Notice what’s not on the list of What issues concern Americans the most? That would be foreign policy and Terrorism. Considering we are spending alot of money against ISIS and the new cold war v2.0. I find this interesting. So clearly Americans are turning inward but the government is still wasting printed dollars chasing bogeymen.

  2. The social contract between government and American voters is simple. Bread and circuses. Cheap gasoline and cheap food. In return voters ignore foreign policy which consists of maintaining the American Empire for the benefit of the rich under the guise of protecting the world from the bad guys (same thing, yes?).