The Intersection of Insight and Journalism

There has been much lament in recent years over the growing pessimism of the American public. Numerous observers have remarked upon the gloomy mood of the American people, drawing on both anecdotes and public opinion polls to chronicle the growing lack of confidence in the future of America. But by generalizing about the trend in the aggregate, many of those observers have missed the fact that not every social group sees the future as darkly as every other.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has analyzed more than four decades of data from the General Social Survey (GSS) and from other public polls, including surveys conducted by The Associated Press. We find that while white Americans have indeed become increasingly pessimistic about the future of the country, the same cannot be said about black and Hispanic Americans. Indeed, some trends show a reversal in the way both whites and minorities view the future.