Republican and Democratic voters agree that the United States' best years are in the past

A majority of poll respondents believed the United States' best years were in the past

By Alex Henderson
June 21, 2019 11:30PM (UTC)
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"La Liberté éclairant le monde" (1883) (Albert Fernique)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Republican and Democratic voters in the United States have countless disagreements in 2019. But according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, there is one thing they agree on: the United States’ best years are in the past.

The bipartisan poll was conducted for the WSJ and NBC by a GOP pollster (Bill McInturff) and a Democrat (Jeff Horwitt). And when respondents were asked how optimistic they were about the United States’ future, 51% of them believed the country’s best years were in the past — while only 44% were confident that the country’s future looks bright. According to WSJ’s John McCormick, Democrats and Republicans as well as independent voters “are nearly in sync” in that regard.


The poll underscores the deep and bitter ideological divisions in the U.S.: only 26% of respondents saw the U.S. as “tolerant of others with different beliefs and lifestyles.” More than four out of 10 Americans, according to the poll, have quit discussing politics with a friend or family member because that person doesn’t share their views. And while 44% of respondents believed the U.S. can overcome its political divisions enough to solve problems, 53% believe that it cannot.

The WSJ and NBC News also found that Americans want more terms limits, not less. Presently, the U.S. has term limits for presidents, who are limited to two consecutive four-year terms — and some parts of the U.S. have gubernatorial or mayoral term limits. Wisconsin, Texas and Minnesota, for example, have no gubernatorial term limits, while governors are limited to two consecutive four-year terms in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

There are no term limits for members of the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives, but more than seven in ten respondents favor term limits for members of Congress. And while U.S. Supreme Court justices enjoy lifetime appointments, 60% of respondents believe that their appointments should be something less.


Some democratic republics have term limits for their supreme courts. For example, justices on the Uruguayan Supreme Court are appointed to ten-year terms by the country’s executive branch. The WSJ/NBC poll didn’t specify exactly how long Americans believe that U.S. Supreme Justices should serve, but most Americans now oppose lifetime appointments.

The WSJ/NBC News poll was conducted from June 8-11, and McCormick cited its margin of error as 3.1%.

Alex Henderson

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All Salon America Bipartisanism Democracy News & Politics Political Divisions Term Limits United States