“Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now,” sing the Schuyler sisters in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton.” They seem to sum up the optimism that Americans have for themselves in reflecting on 2018 and entering 2019.
It’s a buoyant way to look at the past year’s trip around the sun, when the goings on included political division, immigration battles, fake news, mass shootings, #MeToo revelations and environmental disasters. But relative prosperity and low unemployment also likely shaped Americans’ psyches in reflecting on their year.
Three-quarters of adults say 2018 was good for their personal life, with little variation among demographic groups, according to a fresh Ipsos survey. Just 6% of respondents say this was a very bad year for them. All the demographic groups rated 2018 higher for themselves personally than they did in 2017.
Year-end review for America mixed
However, when asked about 2018 for the United States, “We see significant differences,” says Chris Jackson, an Ipsos vice president. About half of those polled say 2018 was a good year for the country.
Parents (63%), men (58%), and white people (56%) are much more likely to say 2018 was good for the U.S. than women (47%), less affluent households (45%), and minority respondents (40%), says Jackson.
Americans overall are more upbeat at year’s end compared to 2017. Survey respondents rated the year 7 percentage points higher personally and 13 points higher for the country than in 2017. It’s worth noting that Ipsos conducted the poll two days following the midterm elections.
Differences between genders and age groups also narrowed in 2018 compared to the year before, except within income groups. Both households with incomes below and above $50,000 improved year-over year. But the optimism gap between them grew by 17 points in 2018 compared to 16 points the year before. In judging the country, both income groups improved by double digits year-over-year. But the difference between them was less wide, 11 points.
Perhaps this attitude will give Americans the confidence to be bold in their approach to New Year’s resolutions, as author Neil Gaiman once suggested:
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.”