'Downhill,' 'divisive': Americans sour on nation’s direction in new NBC News poll

Posted 112 days ago


WASHINGTON - Overwhelming majorities of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, that their household income is falling behind the cost of living, that political polarization will only continue and that there's a real threat to democracy and majority rule.

What's more, the nation's top politicians and political parties are more unpopular than popular, and interest in the upcoming November midterms is down - not up.

And when Americans were asked to describe where they believe America is today, the top answers were "downhill," "divisive," "negative," "struggling," "lost" and "bad."

Those are the grim findings of a new national NBC News poll conducted less than 10 months before the midterm elections, when control of the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and governors' mansions across the country will be up for grabs.

"Downhill, divided, doubting democracy, falling behind, and tuning out - this is how Americans are feeling as they're heading into 2022," said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies.

That pessimism and gloom isn't helping the party in control of the White House and Congress.

While the poll shows Democrats enjoying a narrow 1 point advantage over Republicans as the party that should control Congress, it also shows President Joe Biden's job approval rating remaining in the low 40s, Republicans holding a double-digit edge in enthusiasm and key Democratic groups losing interest in the upcoming election.

"There is nothing but flashing red flights and warning signs for Democrats," said McInturff, the Republican pollster.

According to the poll, 72 percent of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction - essentially unchanged from the 71 percent who held this view in October's NBC News poll.

It marks just the sixth time in the poll's history when 70 percent or more have said the nation is on the wrong track in back-to-back surveys.

"In the three instances when this sustained dark outlook coincided with an election year, it foreshadowed bad news for the party in power - 1992, 2008 and 2016," said Horwitt, the Democratic pollster.

On the economy, while job creation is up and the unemployment rate is down, 61 percent of respondents in the poll say their family's income is falling behind the cost of living.

That's compared with 30 percent who say they're staying about even and 7 percent who say their income is going up faster than the cost of living.

On the state of the nation's politics, 70 percent agree with the statement that America has become so polarized that it can no longer solve the major issues facing the country - and that those differences will only continue to grow.

By contrast, 27 percent agree with the statement that, despite the nation's strong partisan differences, the country always comes together to solve the greatest challenges.

That's a sign... (Read more)