By PRRI Staff
Pessimism, Optimism, and Polarization
As the U.S. enters the closing weeks of the 2020 presidential election, two-thirds (67%) of Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction, compared to only one-third (32%) who say it is headed in the right direction. Notably, this mood is slightly less pessimistic than public sentiment just ahead of the 2016 elections (74% wrong direction, 25% right direction).
Two-thirds (66%) of Republicans, compared to one in four (26%) independents and one in ten (10%) Democrats, say the country is moving in the right direction. However, Republicans and independents are less optimistic about the direction of the country now than they were in 2019 (74% and 34%, respectively), while attitudes among Democrats are unchanged (11%). Republicans who say they trust Fox News most for television news overwhelmingly believe that the country is going in the right direction (79%), compared to 58% of Republicans who trust other news sources.
White evangelical Protestants (59%) are the only major religious group to say that the country is moving in the right direction. Other white Christian groups are less optimistic, including 40% of white mainline Protestants and 39% of white Catholics. Hispanic Protestants (40%), Hispanic Catholics (28%), and other Christians (26%) are less likely to say the country is headed in the right direction. Only about one in four non-Christian religious Americans (24%), along with 18% of religiously unaffiliated Americans and 13% of Black Protestants, say the country is headed in the right direction.
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