Americans across political lines are united in their generally negative feelings about the US and its politics, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS, with Democrats particularly unlikely to express political enthusiasm.
Just 14% of Americans say they’re either excited (4%) or optimistic (10%) about the way things are going in the country, with 65% calling themselves concerned and another 21% saying they’re scared. Only about one-quarter, 23%, call themselves “fired up” about politics, with 53% describing themselves as burned out. And roughly one-third, 32%, say they feel their side is currently losing more than winning in politics, with just 9% feeling that they’re mostly on the winning side.
Democrats are modestly more positive than Republicans on the state of the country: 19% of Democrats describe themselves as optimistic or excited, compared with only 9% of Republicans who say the same. But Democrats are less likely to feel fired up than Republicans (25% vs. 33%) and more likely to say their side is losing (43% vs. 31%).
There are ideological divides as well, with liberals 16 percentage points likelier than conservatives to say they’re mostly losing and 10 points likelier to described themselves as burnt out by politics. And fears for the state of the country also correspond to political engagement: 33% of those who are scared about the US describe themselves as fired up about politics. By contrast, just 19% of those who say they’re concerned also describe themselves as fired up, and that number is just 13% who say they’re optimistic.
The economy continues to be at the forefront of most Americans’ minds. A 59% majority say economic issues are the most important issue to the country, compared with 30% who are more concerned with domestic and social issues, 3% who are most focused on foreign policy, and 7% saying another issue is their top concern.
While economic concerns dominate across party lines, they’re most pronounced within the GOP. Three-quarters of Republicans say that economic issues are the most important, compared to a more modest 54% among independents and 50% among Democrats. Significant minorities of Democrats (43%) and independents (30%) are more focused on social or domestic issues, while just 19% of Republicans say the same. There’s an ideological divide here as well: Among conservatives, 70% say economic issues are most important and just 21% say that social and domestic issues are; among liberals, a narrow majority call social and domestic issues their top concern (51%) with 41% choosing economic issues. Few across party or ideological lines care most about foreign policy.
Among the full public, the survey finds, Republicans hold a narrow edge in trust to handle the types of issues Americans say they care most about. By a 5-point margin, 35% to 30%, Americans say they trust the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party to handle such issues. More than one-third, 35%, trust neither party.
Those who prioritize economic issues – a heavily Republican-leaning bloc – give the GOP a 24-point lead, 46% to 22%, to handle those issues. Those who prioritize social and domestic issues – a bloc of mostly Democratic-aligned Americans – favor the Democratic Party by a 30-point margin, 49% to 19%.
Around 8 in 10 partisans on both sides trust their own party, while two-thirds of independents say they don’t have faith in either party to handle the country’s biggest issues.
The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS on May 12 and 13 among a random national sample of 1,000 adults surveyed by text message after being recruited using probability-based methods. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It is larger for subgroups.