Within days of the decade’s end, Gallup reviews the major trends and how Americans reacted to them. The four key trends looked at were: U.S. Satisfaction; Most Important Problem; Presidential Job Approval and Congressional Job Approval.
Gallup: At the start of this decade, Americans’ satisfaction with the direction of the country stood at 69%, near the record-high 71% established in early 1999 that was fueled by a booming economy. Satisfaction levels quickly descended in 2001 as economic concerns mounted, and fell below 50% in mid-August of that year (48%). However, in the first few months after the 2001 terrorist attacks, public satisfaction quickly rebounded — part of a broader “rally around the flag” effect triggered by 9/11 — reaching 70% in December.
As might be imagined, Americans have identified a wide variety of issues as being “the most important problem facing this country” when asked this question throughout the decade. In Gallup’s last reading of the decade — in December 2009 — 29 different problems were mentioned by at least 1% of Americans.
The accompanying graph tracks the decade-long trends in Americans’ mentions of four of these problems: 1) the economy (a category that includes all mentions of economic issues); 2) terrorism; 3) wars (a category including either general mentions of wars or mentions of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan specifically); and 4) healthcare.