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More than 7 out of every 10 voters think US is on the wrong track: 76% say democracy is under threat

More than 7 out of every 10 Americans think the country is on the wrong track: 76% say democracy is under threat while Democrats barely come out ahead of Republicans in a generic 2022 midterms poll

  • Democrats’ chances of holding onto their slim majority in Congress are waning, according to the new NBC News poll
  • They only lead Republicans in a hypothetical midterm by one point, with GOP voters appearing to be more enthusiastic about turning out in November 
  • Democrats have seen losses in voter enthusiasm from key blue groups like black voters, young voters and urban voters
  • 70% of Americans think US politics is too polarized for the federal government to competently tackle issues facing the country, up from 45% in 2010


A vast majority of Americans are unhappy with the direction their country is going in under President Joe Biden‘s watch and think the political climate is too polarized to get meaningful progress done, a dire new poll released on Sunday shows.

A survey conducted by NBC News between January 14 and 18 shows that 72 percent of Americans think the United States is off on the wrong track, while just 22 percent believe it’s headed in the right direction.

That’s relatively unchanged from the last time the poll was taken in October when 71 percent of respondents felt the same — meaning the president’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and attempts to pass federal voting laws and Build Back Better failed to inspire confidence in Americans. 

Throughout the NBC poll’s history, public dissatisfaction with the country’s future climbed above 70 percent only six times — each time it occurred during an election year coincided with a new majority in Congress the following November.

‘In the three instances when this sustained dark outlook coincided with an election year, it foreshadowed bad news for the party in power — 1992, 2008 and 2016,’ Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates told the outlet.

Americans also appear more pessimistic than ever about the state of democracy, with 76 percent believing it is under threat. More than seven in every ten Republicans, Democrats and Independents shared the sentiment.  

And Democrats’ hope to retain or even grow their razor-thin majority in both houses of Congress is growing further out of reach.

A majority of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track — which could spell bad news for Democrats in the midterm elections

A Democratic pollster said that instances when Americans' dissatisfaction with the country's future has hit such highs in previous election years have led to an upheaval in Congress

That means Republicans are historically likely to win the majority as Americans look for a change in direction

‘In the three instances when this sustained dark outlook coincided with an election year, it foreshadowed bad news for the party in power — 1992, 2008 and 2016,’ Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt said of Americans’ dissatisfaction with the US’s direction climbing above 70%

The most recent NBC poll saw Republicans close in on Democrats in the above question, with 45% of voters favoring a GOP-controlled Congress in October compared to 46% now. Democrats' favorability has remained consistent through both

The most recent NBC poll saw Republicans close in on Democrats in the above question, with 45% of voters favoring a GOP-controlled Congress in October compared to 46% now. Democrats’ favorability has remained consistent through both

Both parties were in a near-tie when it comes to who Americans want to control Congress for the last two years of Biden’s term. Forty-seven percent of Americans said they wanted Democrats to retain their majority, while 46 percent said they preferred it to flip to Republicans.

It falls well within the poll’s margin of error, 3.10 percent.

The GOP managed to narrow the gap from October, when 45 percent of respondents said they wanted Republicans to take power compared to 47 percent who backed Democrats.

Republicans could also have an edge in terms of turnout. A majority of GOP voters — 61 percent — said they were very interested in the upcoming election.

Just 47 percent of Democrat voters said the same.

Among the most significant reductions in voter enthusiasm come from black voters, young voters and those who live in urban areas — all generally left-leaning groups.

Republicans also come out on top in general favorability, though not by much, which is emblematic of Americans’ general dissatisfaction with the state of US politics. 

Democrats and Republicans are separated by just one percentage point in terms of somewhat or very positive views, 33 to 34 percent. 

Both parties' general favorability is about the same

Though GOP voters appear to be more enthusiastic about the upcoming election

Both parties’ general favorability is about the same though GOP voters appear to be more enthusiastic about the upcoming election

However, slightly more view Democrats negatively than Republicans, at a margin of 48 to 44 percent.

Biden himself isn’t faring much better, with an approval rating that’s stayed in the low 40s, by NBC’s polling, since October. 

The poll also points to a generally pessimistic outlook for the country’s future.

Seventy percent of respondents agreed that American politics is so polarized that the federal government can no longer solve major issues, and that those differences would continue to grow. 

It’s a significant spike from the 45 percent who felt the same in May 2010.

Meanwhile the sentiment that ‘strong partisan differences have always made America dynamic. Yet in tough times we always come together as a nation–to solve our greatest challenges–and we will continue to do so’ only netted 27 percent of support.

In May 2010, 50 percent of Americans believed the nation could overcome its differences in tough times. 

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