Americans’ Outlook for the Future

The March 2018 AP-NORC Poll explores Americans’ expectations for the future and evaluations of the situation in North Korea.

Overall, the public is more pessimistic than optimistic about the direction of the country. Just 37 percent of Americans say the country is heading in the right direction and 62 percent say it is going in the wrong direction.

More also expect things to get worse rather than better as far as the way things are going in the country, the United States’ global influence, and respect for it around the world. There are sharp partisan differences, however, with Republicans’ holding considerably more positive expectations compared to Democrats.

Americans remain worried about the threat posed by North Korea to the United States and its allies, though they express less concern than last fall when North Korea was conducting frequent ballistic missile tests and President Trump was suggesting a possible military response. Today, about half worry about the threat North Korean nuclear weapons pose to the United States, its territories, and its allies, down from about 7 in 10 in September 2017.

Earlier this month, Trump agreed to meet with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Forty-eight percent favor the president’s plan to take part in direct negotiations with Kim Jong Un while 29 percent oppose and 21 percent neither favor nor oppose.

Overall, 42 percent approve of Trump’s handling of North Korea, up from 34 percent in October 2017. Still, a majority (56 percent) disapprove of how the president’s is dealing with issue.

The nationwide poll was conducted March 14-19, 2018 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,122 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points for all respondents.