Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Despite Romney's suggestion, Americans' pessimism is nothing new

The statement

"The majority of Americans now doubt that our children will have a better future."

Mitt Romney, in his speech at the RNC Thursday

The ruling

Mitt Romney made his case for the presidency by reminding his audience members of the optimism they felt four years ago when Barack Obama was elected — and the pessimism they feel now.

"The majority of Americans now doubt that our children will have a better future," Romney said Thursday at the Republican National Convention.

We wondered whether he was right about Americans' gloomy outlook.

A poll of 500 adults nationwide conducted in May for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal asked, "Do you feel confident or not confident that life for our children's generation will be better than it has been for us?"

A majority — 63 percent — responded that they were "not confident," while 30 percent answered "confident." Seven percent were unsure.

But this is not a new phenomenon, as Romney suggests. A majority has said that nearly every time the poll has been conducted — 10 times since 1992. Only in December 2001 did more respondents (49 percent) say they were confident about their children's future, rather than not confident (42 percent).

A similar poll conducted for CBS News and the New York Times in April asked 957 adults this question: "Do you think the future of the next generation of Americans will be better, worse, or about the same as life today?"

The "worse" answer had a plurality: 47 percent. Twenty-four percent answered "better," and 23 percent said "about the same." That poll, conducted six times since 2009, also reflected widespread pessimism, with "worse" being the most frequent answer every time.

Finally, a USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,012 adults conducted in May surveyed whether Americans were satisfied with "the opportunity for the next generation of Americans to live better than their parents." Nearly six in 10 Americans — 58 percent — said they were dissatisfied, while 40 percent said they were satisfied.

From Gallup: "Among partisan groups, Democrats today are the most upbeat about the financial opportunity available to the next generation, but only on a relative basis. Less than half of Democrats (48%) are satisfied with the opportunity for the next generation to live better than their parents, compared with 37% of Republicans and 35% of independents. Democrats are also significantly more likely than Republicans to feel satisfied with Americans' willingness to work hard to get ahead, 59% vs. 47%."

Back to Romney, who said that "the majority of Americans now doubt that our children will have a better future."

We found three polls that support his claim. Americans are indeed pessimistic about their children's prospects. But that's nothing new, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. For at least the past 20 years, we Americans have expected that our kids will be worse off than we are. Romney cast this national outlook as specifically an Obama-era phenomenon.

That makes his use of the word "now" a bit misleading.

We rate his statement Half True.

Molly Moorhead, Times staff writer. This item has been edited for print. Read more fact-checks at PolitiFact.com.

Despite Romney's suggestion, Americans' pessimism is nothing new 08/31/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 31, 2012 10:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A second mistrial: Jury deadlocks in Ohio cop's murder retrial

    Nation

    CINCINNATI — A mistrial was declared Friday in the murder retrial of a white University of Cincinnati police officer after the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on charges in the fatal traffic stop shooting of an unarmed black motorist.

    Former University of Cincinnati police officer Raymond Tensing, left, and his attorney Stew Mathews listen as Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Leslie Ghiz tells the jury to continue deliberations after the jury said they are deadlocked during Tensing's trial on Friday in Cincinnati. [AP photo]
  2. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois

    Blogs

    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.

  3. What to watch this weekend: 'GLOW,' second season of 'Preacher'

    Blogs

    Ready to rumble: GLOW

    Four words: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Yes, the fluorescent, body-slamming soap opera GLOW starring a cast of exaggerated characters is back, this time as a fictionalized Netflix series. Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men) stars as Ruth, a down-on-her-luck actor …

    Alison Brie, left, and Betty Gilpin in GLOW on Netflix.
  4. Exploratory Lab Boot Camp provides real-life technology training to students

    Science

    CLEARWATER — At this graduation ceremony featuring some of the brightest local minds in tech, it was the youngsters who stood out.

    Laszlo Leedy, 17, a senior at Shorecrest Prep, presents part of his team's project for SPC's Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. Students presented their ideas at the end of the SPC Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. The program provides real-time business training to students. This year's graduation celebrated 15 students that finished the program. 
[JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  5. Editorial: Trump, not military, should set troop levels in Afghanistan

    Editorials

    There is no task more solemn for any American president than the decision to send troops off to war. In delegating authority over troops levels in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, President Donald Trump has shirked his obligation to own and defend his Afghan policy, while further divorcing America's military strategy there …