Divided. That is the most commonly mentioned description of the country today, according to the Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll. Less than half of the public feels that the state of the union is strong. Americans express much less optimism about President Joe Biden now than at the start of his term just over a year ago. Just 1 in 4 say his first year agenda has put a lot of focus on issues important to average Americans.
Less than half (46%) of the American public says the state of the union is strong (8% very and 38% somewhat). Another 27% say it is not too strong and 24% say it is not at all strong. This result is more negative than in a poll taken after former President Donald Trump’s first year in office (55% strong in January 2018) although that number declined by the following year (48% strong in January 2019). Compared to four years ago, Republicans have shown a bigger shift in opinion that the union is strong (from 76% in 2018 to 24% now) than Democrats have (from 42% to 68%). Opinion among independents has been more stable (52% strong in 2018 and 46% in 2022). Overall, just 24% of the public feels that the country is headed in the right direction. This number hit a high of 46% last April before steadily declining over the past year. The “right direction” poll number hovered between 18% and 40% during the Trump administration.
“The country is seen as a little less strong than it was four years ago, although that opinion was fleeting. At the same time, fewer Americans feel we are becoming more divided than we have been over the past few years, but this disunity remains the dominant image of the state of the country,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Nearly half of Americans (48%) say the country has become more divided since Biden took office. Just 15% say it has become more united and 35% say it has not really changed. Throughout most of Trump’s term in office, about two-thirds of the public felt the country had become more divided. When Monmouth asked poll respondents to use one word or phrase to describe the United States of America today, the most common response was “divided” (see word cloud image). This sentiment accounts for more than 1 in 10 responses when combined with related words such as polarized, conflicted, and fractured. Other commonly mentioned top-of-mind words are chaos, mess, confused, and disappointing. In all, 76% of poll respondents used a negative word to describe the current state of the country while just 15% used a positive one.