A New Year’s note from the public: 2012 looks bright for me, not so hot for the rest of the country and worse still for the world in general.
In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, three-quarters of Americans offer favorable assessments of the year ahead when it comes to their own lives. Fewer, 55 percent, are similarly bullish about the United States, and there’s an even divide — 49 to 48 percent — in favorable and unfavorable ratings about the world as a whole.
Rosy predictions for their own lives jibe with consistently more upbeat personal ratings as compared to broader views of the nation. In the mid-December Post-ABC poll, just over six in 10 were optimistic about their family’s finances in the year ahead, far higher than the 44 percent who expressed optimism about the national economy.
The public’s more tempered views of the country and the world in 2012 come after an especially rough 2011. In the past year, the inability of Congress to agree on virtually anything inspired rock-bottom approval ratings, and about three-quarters of the public saw the country on the wrong track and nearly nine in 10 rated the national economy as “not so good” or “poor.”
Things were even more volatile globally: a near nuclear disaster in Japan, Europe’s economies roiled in a debt crisis, the death and removal of dictators in the Middle East and North Korea and the conclusion of the war in Iraq.
Virtually all demographic and political groups agree that 2012 looks favorable on a personal level, but differences emerge in ratings for the country and the world. Democrats are more upbeat, while Republicans and independents are less favorable about the country and world in 2012. Conservative Republicans stand out as holding the most unfavorable feelings toward the new year.
Money may not buy happiness, but perhaps it buys peace of mind.
The group with the highest personal favorable ratings for 2012 are those with annual household incomes of at least $100,000. But those with higher incomes are no more content than the less well-off about the country or the world in the year ahead.
Other, more Democratically aligned groups, such as young people and African Americans, indicate higher favorable ratings for the year ahead across all three measures.