Pessimism sweeps America

It's gloomy out there. Men and women, whites and minorities — all are feeling a war-weary pessimism about the country seldom shared by so many people.

Only 25 percent of those surveyed say things in the U.S. are going in the right direction, according to an AP-Ipsos poll this month. That is about the lowest level of satisfaction detected since the survey started in December 2003.

Rarely have longer-running polls found such a rate since the even gloomier days of 1992 ahead of the first President Bush's re-election loss to Democrat Bill Clinton.

The current glumness is widely blamed on public discontent with the war in Iraq and with President Bush. It is striking for how widespread the mood is among different groups of people.

Women and minorities are less content than men and whites, which has been true for years. But all four groups are at or near record lows for the AP-Ipsos poll, and at unusually low levels for older surveys, as well.

Three in 10 men and two in 10 women said this month they think the country is on the right track, down from nearly half of each who felt that way at the end of 2003.

By race, 28 percent of whites and 18 percent of minorities said the same — just over half their rates of optimism from late 2003.

Asked in April why they felt things were veering in the wrong direction, one-third overall volunteered the war and one-fourth blamed poor leadership.

Nine percent faulted the economy, 8 percent a loss of moral values and 5 percent gasoline prices.

"We need to get out of war, get our economy back up, quit spending money outside of America and bring it here," said Democrat Lisa Pollard, 45, an insurance company analyst in Arlington, Texas.