Americans hoping 2010 will be better

The bank account is thin, but the future looks pretty good.

That, oddly enough, is the view of many Americans who predict 2010 will be a better year than this one, even if they fear that the U.S. economy and their own financial circumstances won’t improve.

A whopping 82 percent are optimistic about what the new year will bring for their families, according to the latest AP-GfK poll. That sunny outlook seems at odds with other findings.

Nearly two-thirds think their family finances will worsen or stay about the same next year. And fewer than half think the nation’s economy will improve in 2010, even though Americans rated 2009 as a huge downer.

Mari Flanigan of South Milwaukee, Wis., is one of those who feel fairly optimistic that things will go better at a personal level in 2010 even though her financial situation might grow worse.

Flanigan, 36, is unemployed after selling a family business that faced increasing competition.

“Financially, I’m scared,” she said in an interview.

Rather than seek new work, however, she is thinking of returning to school to become a social worker. “I’d rather make less money and do something I love,” Flanigan said, noting that happiness and optimism are not strictly tied to finances.

The poll found that nearly three-fourths of Americans think 2009 was a bad year for the country, which was rocked by job losses, home foreclosures and economic sickness. Forty-two percent rated it “very bad.”

That’s clearly worse than in 2006, the last time a similar poll was taken. The survey that year found that 58 percent of Americans felt the nation had suffered a bad year, and 39 percent considered it a good year.

Fewer than half as many people, 16 percent, said their family had a “very good year” in 2009 as said that in 2006.

Behind the gloominess, however, are more hopeful views that seem to reflect Americans’ traditional optimism or, perhaps, wishful thinking.

Three in five Americans said their own family had a good year in 2009.

Some 72 percent of Americans said they’re optimistic about what 2010 will bring for the country. Even more are hopeful about what the year will bring for their families.

But in 2009, every corner of the country saw steep job losses, and the national unemployment rate stands at 10 percent. Millions of Americans saw their savings or retirement accounts shrink, and many are rethinking how long they will have to work, and where they might find income.

Marcia Andrews of Blairsville, Pa., was a high school nurse until budget cuts eliminated her job.

Andrews, 69, spent $250,000 to convert an old house into a bed-and-breakfast, but the drop in tourism forced her to put it up for sale. “It was the wrong place and the wrong time,” she said, adding that she also lost money in the stock market.

Andrews feels the nation suffered a very bad year, too, although things might not be quite as bad as she thinks. She said she sensed a hike in U.S. violence, especially robberies, but statistics don’t support that. Preliminary FBI figures for the first half of 2009 showed crime falling across the nation, with robberies down by 6.5 percent.

Despite her setbacks, Andrews said she thinks 2010 will be better for her personally and for the nation.

“I have to be optimistic,” she said. “I always feel that I can pull out of things. … I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but I think it will.”

Americans are not optimistic, however, about the nation’s two wars. Thirty-one percent think the situation in Afghanistan will get better, while 67 percent think it will stay the same or get worse. The results were about the same for Iraq.

Given that President Barack Obama took office in 2009 and Democrats hold solid majorities in Congress, perhaps it’s not surprising that Democrats have a brighter view of the current and coming years than do Republicans.

Only 10 percent of Republicans said 2009 was a good year, compared with about one-third of Democrats and independents. A robust 87 percent of Democrats are optimistic about what 2010 will bring for the country, compared with 53 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of independents.

People’s views of their personal circumstances divide along partisan lines, too.

Only one in five Republicans think their family’s finances will improve in 2010. Nearly half of Democrats and 40 percent of independents hold that view.

Steve Bishop, 59, of Middletown, Calif., said he’s pleased the government is trying to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

“At least we’re addressing the problem finally, and it could be fine-tuned as we go on in later years,” said Bishop, a Democrat and retired U.S. Forest Service manager.

H. June Clark, a Republican retiree in Fort Wayne, Ind., is not as cheery. And she has a warning for all politicians.

A daughter and her husband, both teachers, were laid off for part of 2009, said Clark, 82, who once worked as a server at a country club. Some family members are still out of work, she said.

Clark thinks the nation is headed toward socialism, and she wants a wholesale change in elected officials, no matter their party affiliation.

“I think they have just destroyed our faith in government and I want them out,” she said. “I don’t care if we get independents, populists, whatever. I just want them out.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Dec. 10-14 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media and involved landline and cell phone interviews of 1,001 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.


On the Net:

AP-GfK poll:


Associated Press writers Dennis Junius, Natasha Metzler, Ann Sanner and Trevor Tompson contributed to this report.


  1. griff

    There’s that word again – Hope.

    It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth — and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.” – Patrick Henry, 1775



  2. almandine

    You got it…                                               

    Hope Springs Eternal.

  3. Carl Nemo

    Ironically, Hope was one of the “evils” locked within Pandora’s box along with others that she released upon the world. The ancient Greeks considered it truly to be an evil equal to all others because the illusion of such can lead to both mental and physical weakness; ie., hoping beyond all hope for outcomes instead of applying oneself to realworld solutions to relieve oneself of the torment of despair.

    In “Human, All Too Human”, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that “Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man’s torment.”…extract from Wiki

    Evil, tyrannical governments thrive as a function of altruistic citizens having eternal hope that things will simply get better at some time in the future…NOT! : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. griff

    Reality is what the party says it is, I suppose.

    “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.” – George Washington

    Happy New Year America! It’s Party Time! Catch ya on the other side.

  5. issodhos

    Actually, despite decades of a massive cultural and social assault on Americans and America by New Left oriented haters steeped in the prattlings of socialists Lenin, Trotsky, Marx and Mao, that segment of US citizens who still have some American in them retain their characteristic optimism for the future — in spite of the difficulties ahead.;-)



    Fascism — simply socialism on steroids.

                                                         — Issodhos

  6. doggie daddy

    Check out HR 1106

    which pased the house but not the senate

    it cost the government NUTTIN



    Yet it’s too much of a burden on the government to pass

    Then check out the 7.2 BILLION given to the phone companies to promote broadband use. Oh, then there’s the 3.6 to GMAC becasue they just don’t have enought money to survive or gouge their customers.

    Then write and email your senator to vote for something that can actually benefit the public. Then vote them out of office.