ANXIETY NOSTALGIA AND MISTRUST

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PRRI-AVS-2015-Web

18 ANXIETY, NOSTALGIA, AND MISTRUST

ities believing that America’s best days are behind us (60% and 55%, respectively). In contrast,

majorities of Americans who are affiliated with non-Christian religions (55%), Catholics (56%),

black Protestants (57%), and religiously unaffiliated Americans (58%) all believe America’s best

days are ahead of us.

Views about America’s future are strongly impacted by political affiliation. Roughly six in ten

(59%) Democrats—including 61% of white Democrats—say America’s best days are ahead of us.

Fewer than half (47%) of independents and only about four in ten (41%) Republicans believe that

America’s best days are still to come; nearly six in ten (58%) Republicans say that America’s best

days are behind us. No group expresses greater pessimism about America’s future than members

of the Tea Party. Only one-third (33%) of Tea Party members say that the country’s best days

lie ahead, while about two-thirds (65%) say they are in the past. Among political subgroups, Tea

Party members have experienced the largest swing in opinion over the last few years. In 2012,

Tea Party members were more divided in their views: 42% believed America’s best days were

ahead, while 47% said America’s best days were behind it.

Problems in Local Communities

Americans’ increasing pessimism about the direction of the country is reflected in their views

about prevalent problems within their local communities. Roughly half of Americans say that a

lack of funding for public schools (51%), a lack of opportunities for young people (51%), and crime

(48%) are major problems in their communities. More than one-third cite racial tensions (35%)

FIGURE 5. Which of the following are problems in your own community?

Percent who say each is a major problem

By race/ethnicity

All Americans White, non-Hispanic Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic

80

60

40

20

29

17

47

64

60

49

35

27

36

33

48

36

48

40

66 70

51

45

62 67

74

60

51

45

0

Mistreatment

of people

by police

Racial

Tensions

Illegal

immigration

Crime

Lack of

funding for

public schools

Lack of

opportunities

for young people

Source: PRRI 2015 American Values Survey.

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