George Gao from Pew Research recently pointed out that American respondents stand out from other advanced economies because they are significantly more likely to say they were “having a particularly good day.” According to this Pew survey, 41 percent characterized their day as “particularly good” in contrast with only 21 percent in Germany, 27 percent in the United Kingdom, and 8 percent in Japan.
And yet, US optimism about a particular day does not translate into a favorable view of the direction of the way things are going in the United States in general. Over the past eight years, satisfaction with the way things were going in the United States has averaged 29 percent, short of the 45 percent in Germany, the 30 percent in the United Kingdom, and close to the 25 percent in Japan. Apparently, attitudes toward personal circumstances do not translate directly into attitudes about the direction one’s own country may be taking.
See the rest of my post, with Ted Truman, on this subjected at the PIIE site.
When we looked at the Pew data, we saw that people are typically not satisfied with the direction of their country. In this respect, 2014 wasn't a special year, although many people say that it felt a like a year of protest.