Gallup: Americans' Take on the U.S. Is Improved, but Still Mixed

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Americans' Take on the U.S. Is Improved, but Still Mixed

Americans' overall satisfaction with the country's direction is at its highest point since 2005. However, the 41% satisfied with the country today leaves 58% dissatisfied, and the detailed satisfaction measures reported here help reveal the source of that discontent.

While large majorities applaud the nation's economy and military strength, they remain critical of the federal government on several dimensions and see room for improvement in numerous areas related to the health and wellbeing of Americans.

Story Highlights

  • Most Americans satisfied with country on the economy, national security
  • Dissatisfaction still runs high on numerous domestic issues
  • Average satisfaction across 27 issues is higher than when Trump took office

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Donald Trump's upbeat view of the nation's economy, military strength, economic opportunity and overall quality of life will likely resonate with Americans when he delivers his State of the Union address to Congress next week. Most Americans say they are satisfied with each of these aspects of the country as 2020 begins. The majority also feel positively about the positions of women and gays in society.


Issues on Which Americans Are Broadly Satisfied at the Start of 2020
Ranked by "Net satisfied" (% satisfied minus % dissatisfied)


  Satisfied Dissatisfied Net satisfied
  % % pct. pts.
The overall quality of life 84 16 68
The nation's military strength and preparedness 81 13 68
The opportunity for a person to get ahead by working hard 72 27 45
The nation's security from terrorism 68 27 41
The state of the nation's economy 68 29 39
The position of women in the nation 63 36 27
The influence of organized religion 59 38 21
The acceptance of gays and lesbians in the nation 56 40 16
Gallup, Jan. 2-15, 2020

At the same time, the majority of Americans are dissatisfied with a host of issues that Trump would do well to address. These include a variety of domestic issues such as public education, healthcare, abortion policies and guns -- as well as the economic issues of poverty and the distribution of income and wealth.


Issues on Which Americans Are Broadly Dissatisfied at the Start of 2020
Ranked by "Net satisfied" (% satisfied minus % dissatisfied)


  Satisfied Dissatisfied Net satisfied
  % % pct. pts.
The way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S. 43 56 -13
The nation's laws or policies on guns 42 55 -13
Our system of government and how well it works 43 57 -14
The size and influence of major corporations 41 58 -17
The state of race relations 36 58 -22
The level of immigration into the country today 35 57 -22
The amount Americans pay in federal taxes 37 60 -23
The availability of affordable healthcare 37 60 -23
The size and power of the federal government 38 62 -24
The nation's policies regarding the abortion issue 32 58 -26
The quality of public education in the nation 35 63 -28
The nation's campaign finance laws 23 53 -30
The moral and ethical climate 32 68 -36
The nation's efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness 22 75 -53
Gallup, Jan. 2-15, 2020

Americans are more evenly split in their assessments of eight other aspects of the country, with fewer than 10 points separating the percentages satisfied and dissatisfied. These include medical care, energy policies, the environment, and government regulation of business, among other issues.


Issues Eliciting Mixed Satisfaction at the Start of 2020
Ranked by "Net satisfied" (% satisfied minus % dissatisfied)


  Satisfied Dissatisfied Net satisfied
  % % pct. pts.
The quality of medical care in the nation 52 46 +6
The nation's energy policies 44 41 +3
The position of blacks and other racial minorities in the nation 46 46 0
The nation's policies to reduce or control crime 47 49 -2
The quality of the environment in the nation 46 50 -4
Government regulation of businesses and industries 41 45 -4
The Social Security and Medicare systems 43 51 -8
The role the U.S. plays in world affairs 43 51 -8
Gallup, Jan. 2-15, 2020

These findings are from Gallup's annual Mood of the Nation survey, conducted Jan. 2-15. Gallup has measured Americans' satisfaction with most of these issues each year since 2001, except from 2009 to 2011, when a more limited number of issues were rated or the question was not asked.

Changes Since Trump Took Office

As Trump enters his re-election year, Americans are more positive on eight key issues than they were just before he took office in January 2017.

  • Gallup records double-digit increases in public satisfaction with the nation's economy, security from terrorism, military strength and the state of race relations.

  • Satisfaction is also up by between six and nine points on crime, the position of blacks and other racial minorities, the distribution of income and wealth, and the opportunity for a person to get ahead through hard work.

Over the same period, Americans have grown slightly less satisfied on three issues: abortion (down 7 points), the level of immigration (-6) and the environment (-6).


Changes in Americans' Satisfaction With Issues Since Start of Trump Presidency


  January 2017 January 2020 Change since 2017
  % % pct. pts.
Increased satisfaction  
The state of the nation's economy 46 68 +22
The nation's security from terrorism 50 68 +18
The nation's military strength and preparedness 66 81 +15
The state of race relations 22 36 +14
The nation's policies to reduce or control crime 38 47 +9
The position of blacks and other racial minorities in the nation 37 46 +9
The way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S. 35 43 +8
The opportunity for a person in this nation to get ahead by working hard 66 72 +6
Satisfaction steady  
The overall quality of life 80 84 +4
The influence of organized religion 56 59 +3
The nation's energy policies 41 44 +3
Our system of government and how well it works 40 43 +3
Government regulation of businesses and industries 38 41 +3
The size and influence of major corporations 39 41 +2
The moral and ethical climate 31 32 +1
The quality of medical care in the nation 52 52 0
The nation's laws or policies on guns 42 42 0
The nation's efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness 23 22 -1
The role the U.S. plays in world affairs 45 43 -2
The size and power of the federal government 40 38 -2
The amount Americans pay in federal taxes 39 37 -2
The availability of affordable healthcare 39 37 -2
The quality of public education in the nation 37 35 -2
The acceptance of gays and lesbians in the nation 59 56 -3
The Social Security and Medicare systems 47 43 -4
Decreased satisfaction  
The quality of the environment in the nation 52 46 -6
The level of immigration into the country today 41 35 -6
The nation's policies regarding the abortion issue 39 32 -7
Note: Gallup did not ask the questions on "The position of women in the nation" and "The nation's campaign finance laws" in 2017.
Gallup, Jan. 2-15, 2020


Long-Term Trend Is Up, but Still Much Room for Improvement

Americans' average satisfaction rating for the 27 issues Gallup has tracked consistently since 2001 is now 47%. This is up three points from a year ago and is the highest since the January 2005 poll.

Today's average satisfaction is roughly on par with the level of the early 2000s. Only in 2002 was the average for this metric substantially higher than it is today. The average 53% recorded that year reflected heightened satisfaction as Americans were in full "rally around the flag" mode shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

Line graph from 2001 to 2020 showing the average percentage of Americans satisfied with 27 different aspects of the country.

Today's average satisfaction rating reflects significant increases since 2001 in Americans' satisfaction with the nation's military strength (up 20 points) and the acceptance of gays and lesbians (+21), as well as with energy policy (+12), taxes (+11) and healthcare (+8).

One reason average satisfaction isn't higher now than in 2001 is that satisfaction has since declined sharply on matters related to the performance of the federal government: the system of government and how well it works (down 25 points); the role the U.S. plays in world affairs (-18); and the size and power of the federal government (-12). Satisfaction is also down compared with 2001 on abortion policy (-11), the environment (-10), poverty and homelessness (-8), and race relations (-8).

Additionally, Americans' satisfaction has been persistently low on several other issues, including the moral and ethical climate, campaign finance laws, public education, and immigration. (See link to full trends just above the Survey Methods section.)

https://news.gallup.com/poll/284033/americans-improved-mixed.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_content=morelink&utm_campaign=syndication