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Voters fill out ballots in Wilmington, Ohio, on Nov. 7, 2023.
Just 19% of voters in the survey said they feel confident that their children’s lives will be better than their own generation.Carolyn Kaster / AP

‘Mourning in America’: Poll finds pessimistic voters

The latest NBC News poll finds record numbers for pessimism in the poll’s more than 30-year history. 


Voters are more pessimistic about the future than they have been in decades, according to the latest national NBC News poll.  

The survey finds a record low share of voters — just 19% — who say they feel confident that their children’s lives will be better than their own generation. That’s the lowest level the poll has recorded on this question dating back to 1990. 

“Simply put, 2023 has been a year of mourning in America,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, who conducted the poll along with GOP pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies. 

Those numbers are consistent with other recent NBC surveys showing persistent negative views on the nation’s direction, with a whopping 73% of voters saying in September the country is on the wrong track, the third straight survey where more than 70% of voters said the country is on the wrong track. 

“We have not seen this level of sustained pessimism in the history of the NBC poll going back to 1989,” Horwitt said. 

And back in January, the NBC News poll found a record-high 69% of adults use negative words such as “downhill” and “disaster” to describe the country’s path over the next year.

But the latest survey did find a plurality of voters saying they’re satisfied with their current status, with 43% saying they are doing “about as well” as they thought they would be. The rest of the electorate is split, with 29% doing better than they expected and 27% saying they are doing worse than expected. 

Among those who are doing better, several say in expanded responses that they are doing better financially, and that they were able to leverage their education and other opportunities.

The voters who say they are doing worse than expected also reference their financial position, with many pointing to soaring prices and the high cost of living.  

The NBC News poll was conducted Nov. 10-14 and surveyed 1,000 registered voters — 833 by cellphone — and it has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.