Americans Confident in Future of U.S. Despite Believing Country Is on Wrong Track, New GW Survey Reveals

Majority of voters feel the institutions of Congress and the presidency are not working.

September 17, 2020

WASHINGTON, September 17, 2020 – A George Washington University Society of Presidential Pollsters survey suggests most American voters have confidence in the future of the United States, even though a large majority believes the country is heading down the wrong track.

69 percent of respondents indicated they are confident in the future of the country. Just 26 percent of surveyed voters said they had “very little” confidence in America’s future, and only five percent were not confident at all.

“Although we find ourselves in an era of deep political polarization, Americans of all ages, backgrounds, and party affiliations remain confident that the country will persevere,” said Mark Penn, president and managing partner of The Stagwell Group and founder of the Society of Presidential Pollsters.

“On this Constitution Day, American voters still appear to believe that the Constitution is mostly working to achieve those values identified in the Preamble: providing for the common defense, securing the blessings of liberty, promoting the general welfare, and establishing justice. Still, there remains work to do. Americans are less certain that constitutional government has insured domestic tranquility or formed a more perfect union,” said Dr. Christopher Arterton, professor emeritus of political management and founding dean of the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management.

Although most voters expressed confidence in the future of the U.S., a striking percentage (64 percent) believed the country was not going down the right path. Only 28 percent believed the nation was headed in the right direction. Voters were nearly as downcast about the future of the U.S. economy, with 58 percent holding a negative outlook and 34 percent saying it was headed down the right track.

Majorities of those surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with Congress as well as the presidency. 70 percent of respondents believed Congress is not working as an institution, while 54 percent felt the institution of the presidency is currently ineffective. Surveyed voters were far more pleased with the Supreme Court and the U.S. military. 65 percent of respondents were satisfied with how the Supreme Court was operating and 81 percent believed the armed forces are a properly functioning institution. The complete results from the survey can be found here.

The online survey was conducted by HarrisX on behalf of the Society of Presidential Pollsters from September 4-7, 2020. 1,907 registered voters participated in the survey. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race, ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, education, political party, and political ideology where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

The George Washington University established the Society of Presidential Pollsters in 2010. The Society acts as a membership organization for the select group of people who have served as public opinion advisors to the President of the United States. The Society aims to collect and preserve records of the polling conducted on behalf of the White House over the last eight decades.