- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

America’s mood is upbeat: The Harris Poll’s annual “Feel Good Index” finds the nation happy with home, family and friends — with the biggest increase in positive feelings emanating from “morals and ethics.”

Life, in fact, seems downright harmonious, with 98 percent reporting they’re pleased with their family relations, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,016 U.S. adults Oct. 14-17.

Ninety-five percent feel good about their homes, 92 percent praised the quality of their lives overall, 91 percent were positive about their social lives, 88 percent said they were happy about their health and 85 percent gave thumbs up to their standard of living.

All of the figures are increases from last year’s poll results by as much as six points.

In addition, two-thirds of married respondents reported they were happy with their spouses — up seven points from last year, and the highest number in the history of the survey itself, which dates back to 1997.

The survey reflected one concern that proved paramount during the presidential election last week.

It found that 77 percent felt positive about “the morals and values in their community,” up seven points since last year and 12 points since 1997. Another 55 percent applauded “the morals and values of Americans in general,” up 8 points since last year, and 21 points since 1997.

Those numbers represent “the highest point ever” for values measurements, the survey noted.

Election Day exit polls revealed to many stunned Democrats that 22 percent of voters identified the importance of “moral values” as their primary motivation in the voting booth — an issue cited more than any other concern, including the economy and terrorism.

These so-called “values voters” supported President Bush over Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry 80 percent to 18 percent.

Forty-three percent of the respondents in the Harris survey said they felt good about the nation’s economy, up eight points from last year’s polls. The figure stood at it highest point — 68 percent — in 1999 and 2000. Its lowest point was 39 percent in 2002 .

The survey reflected other financially based attitudes: 60 percent were happy with their jobs, down four points from last year. Sixty-two percent felt good about their financial security, up three points from last year.

The actual “feel good” index is 74 when all the numbers are averaged, up four points from last year and the same as it was in the pre-September 11 days of 1999. The highest number on record was 75, in 1998.

Meanwhile, the United States is a relatively satisfied nation, at least according to the most recent “World Values Survey,” conducted 1999-2001, a massive poll charting social and political change in 65 countries over three years by a consortium of sociologists and academics here and abroad.

They advise that “factors that make people happy may vary from one country to the next” in the survey, which is conducted every four years.

The latest numbers rank the United States the 16th-happiest nation on the planet.

Nigeria was the happiest country, followed by Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador and Puerto Rico. The least happy were Russia, Armenia and Romania.

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