November 2, 2007

Americans’ Less Confident About Solving Problems

58%

That’s the proportion of the U.S. public that agrees with the statement that “as Americans we can always find a way to solve our problems and get what we want,” a 16-point drop from the 74% who thought so in 2002.

Americans have long expressed optimism about their ability as a people to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals, but the public’s collective sense of self-confidence is not as strong as it was a few years ago; while nearly six-in-ten (58%) agree that “as Americans we can always find a way to solve our problems and get what we want,” far more people shared this sentiment earlier in the decade (74% in 2002 and 66% in 2003). Only about half of Democrats (53%) now say that Americans can always find a way to solve their problems, the lowest level of Democratic agreement with this statement in the 20 years of the Pew values survey. In 2003, 62% of Democrats expressed confidence in the problem solving ability of the American people, and in 2002 fully 71% did so. Independents also have become considerably less confident about the ability of the American people to solve their problems: 56% express that view today, down 10 points since 2003 and 18 points since 2002. There has been less change among Republicans – 72% currently agree that Americans can always find a way to solve their problems, compared with 79% five years ago. Read More