Light posting these last few months. Spring term is busy. But hey, there’s always the podcast, which is not bad.
Today I post this somewhat underappreciated survey quantity, the right-track/wrong-track question. It asks whether respondents think the United States is on the right track or wrong track.
This survey has been in consistently negative territory for a long time, but there are three notable breaks in that trend.
- The “wrong track” number started trending down slowly in early November, right around Election Day.
- The “right track number started moving up in January, around the time of the inauguration.
- Both trends reversed around the second week of March (see the vertical line).
It’s hard to pin exact dates on the transitions because it depends on the details of the Huffington Post’s smoothing and graphing rules. In fact, the vertical line above is set at March 7th…but that point on the graph could include survey data from later dates. I need to look into that.
The graph is approximately consistent with shifts in the national mood associated with Trump’s win and inauguration – followed by the bursting of a bubble in mid-March. What caused that break in the trend? One possibility is the death spiral of the American Health Care Act (i.e. Affordable Care Act repeal), which reached an end on March 24th. Certainly the writing was on the wall for at least a week. Or it could be something else. Whatever the case, it appears that any net optimism triggered by Trump’s win has almost completely dissipated.
Update: the cause was almost certainly the failure of ACA repeal. Paul Ryan’s approve/disapprove numbers took a sharp turn at just about the same time.