By Bruce Blakeman
Three months after the 2022 mid-term elections, the American political environment has changed very little. Americans still think the country is seriously off on the wrong track and inflation dominates the issue agenda.
An overwhelming majority of Americans continue to believe the country is seriously off on the wrong track (68%), according to our latest national survey of 1,100 Americans conducted February 10-16, 2023. Only 24% of Americans think the country is heading in the right direction. This is a similar finding to our last national survey during the mid-term election in November 2022, where the wrong direction was 70% and the right track was 22%.
Most troubling for the Biden Administration is the political middle-ground, which agrees the country is heading in the wrong direction. 77% of Independents and 67% of Moderates feel America is off on the wrong track. Middle-class Americans making between $50k to $100k (73%) are also pessimistic on the direction of the country. Even 45% of Democrats think the country is off on the wrong course, with just 44% saying the country is on the right track, while Republicans (89%) and Conservatives (86%) hold some of the most negative feelings about the direction of the country.
Inflation, Jobs + Economy, and Immigration are Top Issues
Inflation continues to dominate the issue agenda for Americans, with 39% saying it is the most important problem facing the country. Second-tier issues are jobs and economy at 9%, and immigration at the southern border also at 9%. The issue agenda for Americans is very similar to what we found at the mid-term election survey in November 2022 , with inflation and high prices the number one issue on which Americans used to determine their vote at 37%. In addition, good jobs and managing the economy was at 10% and immigration at the southern border was at 6%, much the same as it is today.
Currently, inflation and high prices (39%) are a key driver of American’s negative attitudes about the country. Groups that say inflation and high prices are their most pressing issue are ages 45-54 (43%), ages 55-64 (45%), females over age 55 (44%), hold a bachelor’s degree (45%), rural residence (44%), New England residence (45%), and Catholics (44%).
Jobs and economy are cited by 9% of Americans as the most important problem facing the country, predominately considered important by younger Americans and Hispanics. Jobs and the economy are cited by those ages 18-24 (14%), ages 35-44 (16%), men ages 18-34 (17%), men 35-54 (14%), Millennials (13%), Hispanics (14%) and Born-Again Christians (13%).
Managing immigration issues at our southern border is another second-tier issue, with 9% of Americans saying it’s the most important problem facing the country. The issue is cited mainly by older Americans and Republicans, specifically ages 55-64 (12%), ages 65+ (18%), men ages 55+ (19%), rural residents (13%), Republicans (15%) and Conservatives (17%).
Other issues that Americans cite are:
- Stronger Gun Control (7%)
- Fighting Climate Change and Protecting the Environment (6%)
- Fighting Crime (5%)
- Abortion (5%)
- Improving Health Care (5%)
- Balancing the Federal Budget (4%)
- Improving Race Relations (3%)
- Lowering Taxes (2%)
- Protecting Second Amendment Rights (2%)