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More Americans Than Ever Think U.S. Is On the Wrong Track

American Flag | Image by Shipulin_photo/Shutterstock
American Flag | Image by Shipulin_photo/Shutterstock

More Americans than ever before believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to a new report.

The Melham Consulting report found that 73% of Americans believe the nation is on the wrong track, whereas only 22% believe it is moving in the right direction, based on a Hart Research/NBC News poll.

The report compared voters’ responses to the poll over the last 36 years, with 2023 and 2024 marking an all-time high for those who feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. The percentage of voters who feel that way has been steadily increasing since 2017, when only 54% of voters felt the nation was on the wrong track.

Many Americans feel things are out of control, citing systems, institutions, and leadership failures alongside inflation, fear of nuclear threats, and concerns for rights and safety, per the report.

In 2022, 72% of voters said the U.S. was heading in the wrong direction. Prior to that, the last time a similarly large majority of Americans felt so negatively was in 2008, the year of the Great Recession, when 70% of Americans said the country was moving in the wrong direction.

The only time in the last 36 years that a majority of Americans believed the country was headed in the right direction was in 2001, when 55% of voters responded positively. That was also the last time the federal government had a budget surplus.

The report also examined voters’ thoughts on current President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump through a Gallup survey.

The questions asked voters about the candidate’s government efficiency, good judgment, leadership abilities, honesty, concern for the people’s needs, and likeability.

Both candidates did poorly, with Biden’s strength being likeability, whereas Trump’s was government efficiency.

Similarly, a 2023 American Values survey covered by The Dallas Express found that 77% of respondents felt the U.S. was headed in the wrong direction.

The percentage of respondents who agreed with the statement “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country” increased from 15% in 2021 to 23% in 2023.

A Wall Street Journal/NORC survey in 2023, covered by The Dallas Express, found that only 36% of Americans believe the American dream still holds true. This viewpoint has been in steady decline since 2012, when 53% said the American dream held true. The survey also found a decrease in optimism over the past several years, with half of the respondents stating that life was worse than it was 50 years ago.

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