published : 2023-10-13

Americans Overwhelmingly Dissatisfied with Country's Direction

Voters Describe Congress as Out of Touch

A photo of American voters standing in line at a polling station, captured with a Nikon D850.

Nearly three-quarters of American voters are unhappy with how things are going in the country today — including half of Democrats, according to a recent survey.

Overall, 72% of voters are dissatisfied, marking a significant increase from previous years. This level of discontent has only been surpassed five times, with a record high of 79% in 2009.

The current dissatisfaction is up almost 20 points since the early days of President Joe Biden's administration when only 53% of Americans felt unhappy.

Surprisingly, this grim view is not limited to Biden's partisan detractors. Dissatisfaction among Democrats has seen a drastic increase of 29 points since the start of his presidency.

Among independents, 83% express their unhappiness, marking an 18-point rise. And within the Republican Party, a staggering 92% majority are dissatisfied, reflecting an 8-point increase.

An image of a frustrated Democrat supporter expressing dissatisfaction with the country's direction, taken with a Canon EOS R5.

The high level of dissatisfaction can be attributed in part to the impact of inflation on the national mood. A considerable 58% of voters consider inflation and higher prices an emergency, surpassing concerns about other pressing issues such as opioid addiction, crime, the situation at the southern border, climate change, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Furthermore, economic strain is evident, with 35% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, a rise from 28% in 2021. More than half, 53%, worry that their savings would run out within three months if they had to rely on them, particularly those earning $50,000 or less annually.

A contrasting trend emerges, as 22% of Americans believe they could survive for over a year on their savings, up from 12% in 2021. These numbers reflect the growing economic divide in the country, with more households living on a financial edge and others building up reserves, while the middle class continues to shrink.

The strain on family finances is largely felt in the realm of food and groceries, with 41% of voters stating it as the toughest expense. Housing, utilities, gasoline, healthcare, and student loans are mentioned by far fewer individuals.

Interestingly, high interest rates have delayed major purchases for many Americans, with 53% reporting such delays. This trend is consistent across income groups, with women, Hispanic voters, and those under the age of 35 most likely to have deferred buying a home or car due to high rates.

A snapshot of President Joe Biden addressing the nation, with a concerned expression on his face, photographed using a Sony A7 III.

In addition to financial concerns, American voters feel disconnected from their country's leaders. A significant majority, 80%, believe Congress is out of touch, and this sentiment is mirrored among Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

Meanwhile, 64% of voters believe President Biden is out of touch with everyday Americans, and 59% feel the same about former President Donald Trump. Among Congressional lawmakers, disapproval is high, with 60% disapproving of the job Congressional Democrats are doing and 66% expressing disapproval of Congressional Republicans.

Regarding President Biden's overall job performance, the findings are not encouraging, with only 41% of voters approving of his actions. This disapproval extends to his handling of the economy, with 62% expressing dissatisfaction, especially in the areas of inflation and border security.

These numbers highlight the challenges facing the current administration and the stark divisions among American citizens. The collective discontent suggests a nation in need of effective leadership and meaningful solutions. With the approval ratings at a low, it remains to be seen how the government will address these concerns and bridge the divide.