Optimism reigns in poll

SUNDAY, DEC. 31, 2006

WASHINGTON – The news from Iraq and other national headlines may be grim, but in Greenville, N.C., John Given has a new baby and his first home, and life is good.

So, too, for Sandra Trowbridge in tiny Magnet Cove, Ark. The situation in Iraq makes her feel pessimistic about the state of the nation, but at home, at least, all is well. Even if nothing special has happened to her family, she says, “we still love each other,” and that’s enough.

And so it goes for most Americans. An AP-AOL news poll finds that while most Americans said 2006 was a bad year for the country, three-fourths thought it had been a good one for them and their families.

“In a time of war, so little has been asked of us as citizens,” said Given, who teaches ancient Greek at East Carolina University. “We haven’t had to sacrifice anything. We’ve been allowed to live our lives very, very well.”

Looking ahead, optimism reigns.

Seventy-two percent of Americans feel good about what 2007 will bring for the country, and an even larger 89 percent are optimistic about the new year for themselves and their families, according to the poll.

That fits with a long-term trend suggesting that Americans are generally an optimistic lot. Polling over recent decades is replete with optimism, and with a tendency for people to feel more positively about their own situations than that of the country’s overall.

The current optimistic outlook among Americans does not extend to their assessments of the war in Iraq. Forty percent of those polled expect the situation there to get worse in 2007, and 31 percent see no change on the horizon. Just 27 percent expect the situation there to get better.

Among the one-quarter of Americans who felt pessimistic about what 2007 will bring for the country, Iraq was a recurrent theme, along with concern about poor political leadership.

The AP-AOL News poll of 1,000 adults was conducted by telephone from Dec. 12-14 by Ipsos, a public opinion research firm. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Click here to comment on this story »