And Justice for All?

A Majority of Americans – Across Party Lines – Feel the Country is on the Wrong Track

Adults are split on whether the economy will improve, stay the same, or get worse

2016 has come to a close and, both politically and otherwise, 2017 sees a lot of changes on the horizon for the American people. Thinking of the country as a whole, nearly seven in 10 Americans say that things in the country have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track (68%). Regardless of political party affiliation, a majority of Democrats (70%), Independents (71%) and Republicans (60%) feel this way. This sentiment is also particularly true among women (73% vs. 62% of men) and older Americans, ages 55+, compared to those 18-44 (65+, 73%; 55-64, 72%; 45-54, 69%; 35-44, 63%; and 18-34, 62%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,192 U.S. adults surveyed online between January 9 and 11, 2017. Complete results of the study can be found here.

The economic outlook
Turning to a broad look at the economy, Americans are largely split on where things will go in the coming year. Over one third each say the economy will stay the same (37%) or improve (36%), while more than one in four are expecting it to get worse (27%).

Economic optimism is highest among men (40% vs. 32% of women) and higher income households ($100K+, 41%; $75K-$99.9K, 43%; $50K-$74.9K, 35%; less than $50K, 31%). Republicans are also significantly more likely than both Democrats and Independents to believe the economy will improve this year (56%, vs. 20% and 37%, respectively).

The future at home
Looking at a micro level – their own households – a slight majority of adults say they expect their household’s financial condition will remain the same in the first six months of 2017 (52%). One third, however, are optimistic that their financial situation will improve (36%), while just 12% say it will get worse. Generational differences are apparent as 70% of Matures expect their condition to remain the same while nearly half of Millennials expect things to get better (48%). Men are also more likely to expect improvements (38% vs. 33% of women).


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 9 and 11, 2017 among 2,192 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with non-response, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit our website,

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