Poll: Public Outlook for the Year Ahead

Fifty-seven percent are optimistic about "the way things are going in the country" overall, and 53 percent express optimism about the policies Bush will pursue in the year to come.

Democrats range from 24 to 54 points less optimistic than Republicans on this set of issues. They're closest when assessing their families' economic prospects: Eighty-four percent of Republicans are optimistic, as are 60 percent of Democrats. Outlooks diverge most significantly on the issues with the strongest political component -- Bush's policies and the situation in Iraq -- on which about eight in 10 Republicans are optimistic, compared with fewer than three in 10 Democrats.

Percent optimistic
  Dem. Rep. Ind. Dem.-Rep. Diff.
Policies Bush will pursue: 28% 82% 49% -54%
Situation in Iraq: 29% 83% 50% -54%
State of national economy: 38% 81% 47% -43%
Way things are going in the country: 39% 80% 53% -41%
Country's ability to defend itself against terrorist attacks: 52% 81% 64% -29%
Country's ability to respond to natural disasters: 48% 74% 56% -26%
Your own family's financial situation: 60% 84% 75% -24%

Other Groups

Among other factors in views on 2006, money and religiosity link to optimism. Americans with the lowest incomes (under $20,000) are less likely than higher-earners to be hopeful about their own lives and about the world in the coming year. And more frequent churchgoers are more hopeful about the year ahead than those who attend services less often.

Part of the reason income and church attendance both relate to outlook: Democrats are 17 points more likely than Republicans to be in the lowest income category and Republicans are 16 points more likely than Democrats to attend church services once a week or more.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Dec. 15-18, 2005, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Fieldwork by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

Click here for PDF version with full questionnaire and results.

Click here for more ABC News polls in our Poll Vault.

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