Pessimistic views on the direction of country

Seventy percent of the public thinks the country is headed in the wrong direction, including 87% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats.

February 27, 2022

Few Americans have a high degree of confidence in many of the country’s institutions. Fifty-five percent of Americans disapprove of how Joe Biden is handling his job as president and 70% say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Assessments of Biden’s performance are highest for his handling of the pandemic and Supreme Court nominations (the poll was conducted before Biden named a nominee to replace retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer). Democrats are largely positive in their assessments of Biden, while Republicans and independents remain negative.   

Confidence in the people who oversee many of the country’s major government institutions remains low, just about the same as September 2020. While trust in the military is higher than other institutions, it has deteriorated: 42% have a lot of confidence, down from 53% in September 2020.

The public continues to be pessimistic about the direction of the country. Twenty-nine percent of Americans say things in the country are going in the right direction and 70% think the country is heading in the wrong direction. Democrats are more likely than Republicans or independents to regard the country as on the right track, but still a majority think the country is going in the wrong direction.

The nationwide poll was conducted February 18-21, 2022 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 1,289 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.7 percentage points.

• Suggested Citation: AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (February 2022). “Pessimistic views on the direction of country []

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