The latest numbers from Gallup News show satisfaction with the direction of the U.S. is at the lowest it has been in the past four years (20%). The previous low satisfaction number was in 2017. Gallup notes the current decline occurred in two waves; first as COVID-19 spread, and then after George Floyd’s death and the riots that followed.
As Americans grew dissatisfied with the direction of the country, their priorities also changed. The importance of race relations jumped from 4% to 19% in May, the highest since 1968, while mentions of COVID-19 as the nation’s most important problem fell by half, to 20%. Looking at the partisan breakdown, all parties believe that government/poor leadership, COVID-19, and race relations are the country’s biggest problems, albeit in differing priority order. Republicans believe the most important problems are government/poor leadership (18%), COVID-19 (17%), and race relations (10%). Independents rate government/poor leadership (20%), race relations (20%), and COVID-19 (18%). Democrats put race relations (27%), government/poor leadership (25%), and COVID-19 (25%) as the country’s biggest problems.
Over the next five months, these priorities will likely shift, although it is worth noting that the economy is no longer in the top three priorities for R’s, D’s or I’s. The unrest and uncertainty across the country from the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, and urban riots are at the top of voters’ minds now. That government/poor leadership is also a top concern across the board signals voters are looking to their leaders for confidence and answers but, at present, don’t think either party’s leader is offering that.