- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2002

We are reasonably happy.
Americans are in "fairly good moods these days," according to a new survey released by Gallup yesterday. Based on a poll conducted just a week ago, 56 percent of us are satisfied with the way things are going in the country.
Researchers say it's "intriguing" that Americans are more content with life now than they were before September 11 a "finding that continues to hold."
Gallup has also detected some new permutations in the old satisfaction-economy connection. We are a little leery about current economic conditions, yet the hope that things will improve is lively, indeed.
In years past, Gallup polls found that American contentment is closely and predictably linked with their confidence in both the economy and their president.
Recent numbers reveal that both President Bush and the American status quo have steady approval ratings that linger between 70 percent and 80 percent, while the current economy was rated "excellent or good" by only 35 percent to 50 percent of the respondents.
Yet American optimism is asserting itself. The sense that the economy is on an upswing has risen from 28 percent in mid-September to 52 percent today. Gallup notes this is a pivotal finding.
Americans may continue to rally around Mr. Bush and America "if they feel it is the patriotic thing to do." The true test, the study states, "will come when and if economic optimism starts to dwindle."
Meanwhile, other recent surveys support the notion that we are a happy, resilient lot, despite assorted bogeymen or unseen threats. And some of our reactions can be unabashedly emotional.
An American Research Group survey taken in late April, for example, gave Mr. Bush an approval rating of 77 percent. But respondents were also asked to describe their feelings about the president: 30 percent said his presidency made them "hopeful."
Another 26 percent said they were "happy" about Mr. Bush, 22 percent said they were "worried," 15 percent were "confused," 4 percent were "angry" and 3 percent didn't know how they felt.
Other polls are less visceral.
A CNN/USA Today survey taken in April found that 61 percent of us are satisfied with "the way things are going in the U.S." A Fox News poll taken at the same time found that 58 percent said we're going "in the right direction."
Findings were similar over at Bloomberg. A poll taken in March found that 53 percent were "satisfied" with America's direction; an American Viewpoint poll taken at the same time also found 53 percent to be satisfied.
A CBS and New York Times survey taken in January revealed 52 percent said America was on the right track, though the numbers differ wildly according to political party. Seventy percent of Republicans agreed, compared with only 38 percent of the Democrats.


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