Gloomy New Year: Americans’ mood sours in 2023

Source: Hot Air

Usually, New Year’s Day offers a moment of hope and renewal. This year, however, Americans find themselves gloomy about their prospects and those of the nation for the year that has barely begun. So says Gallup, which has taken the electorate’s temperature for decades in its longitudinal polling.

Large majorities predict higher crime rates, more political division, and a decline in American influence. Pop the hemlock rather than the bubbly, it seems:

Coming off several challenging years, Americans enter 2023 with a mostly gloomy outlook for the U.S. as majorities predict negative conditions in 12 of 13 economic, political, societal and international arenas.

When offered opposing outcomes on each issue, about eight in 10 U.S. adults think 2023 will be a year of economic difficulty with higher rather than lower taxes and a growing rather than shrinking budget deficit. More than six in 10 think prices will rise at a high rate and the stock market will fall in the year ahead, both of which happened in 2022. In addition, just over half of Americans predict that unemployment will increase in 2023, an economic problem the U.S. was spared in 2022.

On the domestic front, 90% of Americans expect 2023 will be a year of political conflict in the U.S., 72% think the crime rate will rise, and 56% predict there will be many strikes by labor unions.

Regarding world affairs, 85% of U.S. adults predict the year ahead will be fraught with international discord rather than peaceful. And while 64% think the United States’ power in the world will decline, 73% think China’s power will increase. However, 64% of Americans expect Russia’s power in the world will decrease in 2023, likely a reflection of that country’s recent setbacks in its war against Ukraine.

The prediction about a decline in Russia’s power and influence is literally the only positive topic in the survey. The only other two topic areas that come close to going positive are on employment (46/53) and union strife (42/56) — and those still produce pessimistic majorities. All ten of the remaining topics have people choosing the sour side by at 63% or higher.

That’s hardly a cheery political environment. It’s probably not helped by the continuing chaos around Congress and the early start of the 2024 presidential sweepstakes, either. The high percentages show that this pessimism is broad and non-partisan.

That’s not to say that it’s entirely devoid of partisanship. Democrats are much more cheery than Republicans and independents. The latter two demos are very pessimistic on everything but Russia, while Democrats feel somewhat cheery on five topics:

  • Full or increasing employment – 69%
  • Inflation moderating – 53%
  • Stock markets – 53%
  • Russia – 79%
  • American power and influence – 56%

We can largely chalk up this level of Democrat optimism to the fact that they retained the Senate and still hold the White House. However, considering that, the levels of optimism among Democrats is hardly overwhelming. The latter is particularly interesting, in fact, given that Joe Biden is much more accountable to how American power gets expanded and strengthened than he might be for some economic outcomes. And yet 44% of Democrats don’t seem to think that Biden will perform well, which means they may regret their choice … or have merely paid attention, particularly to Biden’s disgraceful exit from Afghanistan. That will no doubt complicate Biden’s bid for a second term, assuming that comes to fruition.

What’s even more striking is how depressed political independents appear to be. Other than 61% optimism on Russia and a 45% level of cheeriness on union relations, they’re miserable coming into 2023. Only 15% expect economic prosperity in the new year (and only 36% of Democrats!), and only 24% predict that crime rates will fall. With numbers like these, one would have expected Republicans to do better in the midterms eight weeks ago, but alas.

This has implications for 2024, too. A candidate that can restore optimism and hope has a lot of room to advance in this electorate. Keep that in mind as the election cycle develops.

For a cheerier look at the new year, join Andrew Malcolm and me in our return on The Ed Morrissey Show podcast! Today’s show features:

  • What is this House Speaker election all about?
  • And did Donald Trump have a point in his attack on pro-lifers and fellow Republicans this weekend?
  • Plus, Andrew and I make our predictions for the new year, which we will be sure to deny by this time next year.

The Ed Morrissey Show is now a fully downloadable and streamable show at  SpotifyApple Podcaststhe TEMS Podcast YouTube channel, and on Rumble and our own in-house portal at the #TEMS page!