WASHINGTON — Americans have been pessimistic about the direction of the country for more than two years, yet a vast majority has been consistently happy and satisfied with their own lives during that time, according to polling results published by the Associated Press.
Pollsters often ask voters if they feel the country is on the right track or the wrong track.
Political experts often cite the right track/wrong track results as a measure of the mood of the nation. For example, in an AP poll conducted earlier this month, 45 percent of voters surveyed said the country is on the right track; 52 percent said America is going in the wrong direction. Those pessimistic results are actually an improvement over a year ago, when just 35 percent thought America was going in the right direction. In October 2008, just 17 percent thought America was on the right path.
But little-noted results from the series of AP polls suggest that the level of personal happiness in America has stayed remarkably stable through the recession and the painfully slow economic recovery.
Asked to “think about how things are going in your life in general,” 81-one percent of respondents this month reported being “very” or “somewhat” happy; just 14 percent said they were personally unhappy. Those numbers are virtually identical to results from a year ago, when 80 percent were happy and 14 percent unhappy. In fact, multiple surveys throughout the past two years show a remarkable consistency in the level of happiness in America, with the numbers rarely straying from the polls’ normal margin of error.
Mark Arsenault can be reached at email@example.com.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.