Emotionally wrenching politics, foreign conflicts, and shootings at home took a toll on Americans in 2016, but they're entering 2017 on an optimistic note, according to a new poll that found a majority believes things are going to get better for the country next year, the AP reports. A look at the key findings of the AP-Times Square Alliance poll, which surveyed 1,007 adults online Dec. 9-11, with a sampling error margin of +/-3 percentage points:
- Americans weren't thrilled with the year. Only 18% said things for the country got better, 33% said things got worse, and 47% said it was unchanged from 2015.
- About 55% said they believe things will be better for them in the coming year than in the year that just concluded, a 12-point improvement from last year's poll.
- Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say 2016 was worse for the country than 2015, while Republicans are especially likely to feel that 2017 will be even better for them personally. A New York commercial real estate broker said the political discourse leading up to Republican Donald Trump's election as president played havoc with people's emotions, noting, "The amount of disinformation made people suspect of everything and everyone, even their neighbors."
- About 63% ranked mass shootings and bombings in Orlando, Fla., and in Belgium, Turkey, Pakistan, and France as personally important news stories of the year.
- Meanwhile, 51% said they found news stories about the deaths of people at the hands of police officers, or news about ambush attacks on police in three states, to be among the year's most important news events.
- A majority of Americans, including 7 in 10 Midwesterners, called November's World Series win for the Chicago Cubs to end their 108-year drought memorable.
- Of nine other pop-culture items tested, two were called memorable by about half of Americans: the deaths of Prince, David Bowie, and Leonard Cohen, and the Olympic victories of the US women's gymnastics team.
- As for ringing in the new year, about half of Americans plan to celebrate New Year's Eve at home. About 2 in 10 plan to go out to a friend or family member's home, and 1 in 10 to a bar or restaurant. About a quarter don't plan to celebrate at all. About 6 in 10 plan to watch the Times Square ball drop, nearly all of whom will watch on TV.
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