“Good morning Pooh Bear…if it is a good morning… which I doubt.” –Eeyore, “Winnie the Pooh,” 1926
I have loved Eeyore since I was a kid. I identify with Eeyore.
The depressive donkey in A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” stories pretty much matches the mood of Americans lately, according to the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released last week. When 1,000 potential voters were asked whether they think the nation is on the right or wrong track, 65% of them said the country had taken a wrong turn, and only 25% said the U.S. was on the right path.
The only time the public has felt worse was in October 2008, during the first, deep spasms of the recession. Then, 78% said the nation was on the wrong track, and only 12% felt good about the country’s direction. The last time “right direction” beat out “wrong track” was in January 2004 — and the last election cycle where that was the case was 2002.
“Why are people so gloomy? Well, it might just be everything,” says pollster Micah Roberts, sounding a bit like Eeyore himself. Mr. Roberts is vice president of Public Opinion Strategies, which along with Hart Research Associates conducted the poll. “We haven’t had a plurality saying ‘right track’ in over ten years so that’s pretty amazing. After 10 years it’s just part of the collective consciousness of Americans,” to think the nation’s gone off the rails, he added.
The most negative responses came when people were asked, “Tell me, what are the one or two reasons you feel things in the nation are (headed in the right direction/off on the wrong track)?”
A politically independent millennial from California had quite a few more than that on her list: “Disease, economy. Like Ebola and economy as in people can’t really find jobs. I guess turmoil, like I can’t explain it. Senseless slayings, like in St. Louis downtown there’s like cops shooting people for no reason, public fighting, public riots, people fighting outside of Congress offices, and there’s still a sense of racism. I guess human trafficking. I noticed there was like weird public fires in San Diego. That’s all I can think of right now.”
As if that weren’t enough.
Even those who said they thought the nation was on the right track seemed to doom the future with faint praise.
Take this response from a Democrat, a middle-aged white woman living in the swing state of Pennsylvania: “People are not buying enough. I work for a company Neiman Marcus and we sell to the richie rich. Jobs are an issue. There are none to be had in this area. I believe free trade killed us. I believe it’s done that. I don’t know, there are things that are going in the right direction. This was not done by one President, meaning the damage. As far as I’m concerned, jobs are the most important. The healthcare, a lot of companies aren’t hiring because they have to pay the health insurance. The minimum wage is disgusting. People are not making a living on minimum wage. Anything under ten dollars an hour is not a wage. I believe the minimum wage should be raised.”
Or this, from an African-American Republican female, aged 55-plus, living in New York: “For one thing, we haven’t got wars going on, or fighting.” Or, from a young Republican man in California: “I definitely think the economy is picking up a little. I just left a bank job. So I’m aware of more of that than the Obama administration…That’s it.”
If things seem that bad among people who are happy with where the U.S. is headed, what about the rest?
Here’s a Democrat, a white, retirement-age woman from Iowa who said the nation is on the wrong track: “The wars, the bombings, the terrorism and that, this Ebola thing, that’s not good. Social Security, is that enough. I guess I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Many among the 1,000 voters surveyed named Ebola as a concern. The poll was conducted during the second week in October–just after Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with Ebola, died Oct. 8, and a nurse who cared for him was diagnosed.
An astounding 98% had seen, read or heard something about the disease, and 70% had seen, read or heard “a lot” about it. Compare that with the General Motors recall of cars linked to at least 54 accidents and a dozen U.S. deaths: 75% of people surveyed by CNBC in June knew something about it, and 32% knew a lot.
Only slightly more than half of Americans, 56%, think the U.S. is prepared to handle an Ebola outbreak, according to the WSJ poll.
A disturbing 42% feel the nation isn’t prepared enough, or not at all. This Virginia woman is likely one of them: “The economy sucks, jobs suck, health-care sucks,” said the 30-something Democrat.
However, the absolute, chart-topping bogeyman for Americans was again Congress. Indeed, the poll’s overall negativity “is about Washington, about an economy that seems stuck and not improving –and of course Ebola, ISIS, endless wars,” Mr. Roberts said.
“Collectively, this is all a weight on the shoulders of the average American.” (WSJ)
But I bet the Democrats will still vote for the Democrats and the Republicans the Republicans and not much will change because they can’t.
Do you see a lifelong Democrat who thinks everything is going “in the wrong direction” voting against a Democrat? Really??
And there in lies the real problem. After all, if you look at the graph above the country has been “on the wrong track” is a majority since 2002 but what has been done since 2002, the rise of the Progressive Liberal in Congress and The White House.