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The Nation's Priorities And The Direction Of The Country

Americans are concerned about inflation and the possibility of a recession. The Direction of the Country index indicates a deep pessimism.

A third of Americans (32 percent) pick the economy as the country’s most important issue. Gun violence/control at 15% and lack of trust in government/politicians at 9% are the other top issues.

The results are from the latest IBD/TIPP Poll of over 1,310 Americans, completed in early June. The poll asked Americans, "What is the most important issue facing the country today?"

Only six percent rated the Russia-Ukraine war as the most important issue.  After two years of the pandemic, coronavirus received only 5%, suggesting most Americans are no longer worried about the virus that took over one million American lives.

Immigration and climate change received 5% each. Abortion (3%) and healthcare (3%) were at the bottom. The other bottom tier items were homelessness (3%), crime (3%), racial justice (2%), and home affordability (2%).

Priorities differed according to party and ideological lines.

Gun violence/gun control (24%) and the economy (23%) are the top issues for Democrats. Climate change, the coronavirus, and the Russia-Ukraine war tied for the third spot with eight percent each.

The economy (43%), immigration (12%), and lack of trust in government and politicians (12%) topped Republican concerns.

Independents were closer to Republicans. They rated the economy (36%) and lack of trust in government and politicians (12%) as their top issues. On gun violence/gun control (24%), they were at par with the Democrats.

Top Economic Issues

Gasoline prices (59%), inflation (51%), and food prices (39%)  are the top-three economic issues facing Americans.

We gave respondents a list of 14 issues and asked them to choose their top three concerns.

The ability of Americans to pay their bills (23%), supply chain issues (18%), home affordability (17%), high taxes (15%), and excessive government spending (14%) received double-digit responses.

Direction Of Country

We compute the index from responses to the survey question, "In general, how satisfied are you with the direction that the country is going in at this time?"  The index ranges from 0 to 100. An index of 50 or above is positive, below 50 is negative, and 50 is neutral.

Overall, the index entered the negative zone in September 2021 and has remained there for the past ten months. The June reading was 36.4.

Democrats had the most optimistic reading, at 54.5. Republicans had the lowest score (18.8), indicating extreme pessimism. Independents stayed in the middle at 29.2.

Democrats fell 22.8 points from a high of 77.3 in April 2021 to 54.5 this month, a 29.5% drop.

Republicans' slide began after the elections in November 2020, and they have been posting pessimistic readings (under 50) for 19 months in a row, with an average of 24.3 during Biden's presidency.

Independents averaged 35.9 during Biden's presidency.

Interestingly, all the three ideological groups are in the pessimistic territory in June.

Concrete and effective steps to contain inflation and the price of food and fuel are long overdue. With poll numbers falling even among Democrats, it is clear that President Biden has his work cut out for him. With the midterms fast approaching, time is running out to correct the course.

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