The Year Ahead: Hope Up, Worldview Down

Specifically, a whopping 91 percent of Democrats are optimistic about their party's plans in Congress for the year. Far more independents are optimistic about the policies the Democrats will pursue (62 percent) than about Bush's policies (47 percent). And 42 percent of Republicans express optimism about the Democrats' policies. By contrast, as noted, just 24 percent of Democrats express optimism about Bush's plans.

Among other issues, 82 percent of Americans are optimistic about their family's financial situation (up nine points from a year ago), 71 percent are confident in the country's ability to defend itself against terrorist attacks (up six points), 64 percent are optimistic about the nation's economy (up nine points) and 61 percent are optimistic about the way things are going in the country overall. The latter is 13 points better than it was in May.

IRAQ -- In addition to partisanship and income, views on the situation in Iraq are closely linked to expectations for the world overall in the coming year: People who think the United States is losing the war are 28 points less likely to have a hopeful view of the world's prospects. Views on the war are a significant predictor of broader optimism beyond political partisanship.

INCOME AND SEX -- Money is an important factor in personal optimism for the coming year: The richest Americans are much more optimistic than are people at the lower end of the income scale.

Eighty-six percent of people earning more than $100,000 a year are personally hopeful; that drops to 63 percent of those with family incomes under $35,000. There's a similar income gap in optimism about family finances and the economy, but not in views of the world overall, the direction of the country, the Iraq war or anti-terrorism efforts.

Finally, men are more hopeful than women about their own and the world's prospects for the next year. Nearly eight in 10 men are personally optimistic, as are 68 percent of women; six in 10 men are hopeful for the world, compared with half of women. Part of that is because women tend to have lower incomes and are more apt to be Democrats, but sex predicts optimism even when these are held constant.

METHODOLOGY -- This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Dec. 7-11, 2006, among a random national sample of 1,005 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

ABC News polls can be found on ABCNEWS.com at http://abcnews.com/pollvault.html.

Click here for PDF version with full questionnaire and results.

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