Law and Politics

The Great Optimism Divide

April 1, 2013
By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor

The nation is divided on so many things: God, guns, gay marriage, Obamacare, the fiscal cliff, abortion, the President's job performance, and optimism. Optimism? Even that. Now on the surface, Americans are feeling better about the next fours than they have in a while: 53% told us in our March 14-15 Zogby Poll that they were "very optimistic" or somewhat optimistic" about "the next four years in America".  Four in ten (42%), however, said they were either "very pessimistic" or "somewhat pessimistic".

But what is puzzling – actually troubling – is what this pollster sees in the cross-tabulations. It doesn't appear that optimism or pessimism has that much to do with people's lives and the sense of their own personal future. For starters, if you supported President Obama's re-election, then you are optimistic. If you did not, you are pessimistic. So the real metric here seems to be based on ideology. Thus, 84% of Democrats are optimistic while 28% of Republicans are optimistic. One exception: only 40% of independents are optimistic, 50% are pessimistic. Yet independents voted for Mr. Obama.

The most optimistic Americans are Hispanics (84%) and African Americans (86%), liberals (84%), moderates (57%), 18-29 year olds (57%), 30-49 year olds (59%), Catholics (61%), union members (67%), Weekly Wal-Mart Shoppers (61%), Investor Class (61%), NASCAR Fans 57%, Catholics (60%), and Creative Class (61%). Among income groups: the most optimistic are those earning over $100,000 a year.

April 1, 2013

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