2016 election will be historic one – says Americans in survey

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Weary of political gridlock in Washington, but determined to find solutions to the nation’s most pressing issues, Americans hope a collaboration between entities closer to home – state and local governments, businesses, nonprofits or individuals – will move the country forward, according to a new Heartland Monitor Poll released on July 13 by The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) and Atlantic Media.

As the 2016 general election campaign kicks off, the 26th Allstate-Atlantic Media Heartland Monitor Poll gauges Americans’ opinions on current trends shaping the country, including our most important issues, our greatest opportunities and challenges and where we look for solutions. The results reveal an engaged citizenry that believes key national issues such as political gridlock, education and national security make this election more important than past contests (63 percent).

A growing disillusionment with the federal government’s effectiveness, however, means people aren’t waiting for D.C. to address their everyday issues.

“We’ve been asking Americans for eight years which issues are most important to them, and we heard loud and clear in Heartland 26 they believe it’ll take non-traditional partnerships at the local level to move the country forward,” said Bill Vainisi, senior vice president and deputy general counsel, Law and Regulation, Allstate. “While people continue to look to the federal government for large-scale change, we realize that takes time. As a network of small businesses in nearly every community in America, Allstate knows how critical local innovators are to improving lives from the ground up.”

Americans believe partisan politics are impeding progress when it comes to the nation’s most concerning problems, though there is an overall belief in the resiliency of the American people.

  • Nearly all Americans (92 percent) say the political system in Washington isn’t working well enough to produce solutions to the country’s problems.
  • The gridlock in Washington is a problem felt by everyone, regardless of party lines: Eighty percent of both Republicans and Independents, as well as 63 percent of Democrats, say it’s a serious problem.
  • Almost half of Americans (47 percent) are looking beyond the federal government, saying it will take a new, innovative partnership between some combination of businesses, local governments, non-profits and individuals to move the country forward.
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While Americans are frustrated by inaction in Washington and remain uncertain about the country’s economic future, they feel more optimistic toward their personal financial situations.

  • Most Americans think their current personal financial situation is good (39 percent) or fair (35 percent). One-in-10 (9 percent) say they have an excellent personal financial situation, while 14 percent label their financial situation as poor.
  • More Americans believe their personal financial situation will improve (39 percent) than become worse (9 percent) over the next year. Nearly half believe their finances will stay the same (46 percent).
  • Twenty-two percent expect the national economy to improve over the next year, while 25 percent think it will worsen over that same period. Thirty-eight percent expect it to stay the same.
  • Americans are enthusiastic about some trends they’re seeing:
    • Americans are saving more money than they did before the economic crash of 2008 (37 percent mostly positive impact on the country); and
    • Americans are becoming increasingly self-employed, including working in flexible positions through the sharing economy (34 percent mostly positive impact on the country).
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The political division on the national level is driving engagement among Americans, many of whom perceive the upcoming election as more important and potentially more impactful than past elections.

  • Nine-in-10 Americans (90 percent) believe this election will affect America’s standing in the world. Only 4 percent believe it will not have much impact, and 3 percent think it will have no impact at all.
  • Among registered voters and those planning to register before the general election, three-quarters (75 percent) say they will definitely cast a ballot in November. Another 9 percent say they will probably vote, and 7 percent say there’s a 50/50 chance they will make it to the polls.
    • Six-in-10 registered voters who did not vote or participate in their state’s primary or caucus (62 percent) say they will definitely make it to the polls in November. More than a quarter are considering casting a ballot (16 percent probably vote and 11 percent 50/50 chance of voting).
    • More than eight-in-10 registered voters who did vote or participate in their state’s primary or caucus (84 percent) say they will definitely make it to the polls in November.
  • Despite their beliefs about the importance of the election, Americans largely feel only incremental change, if any, will occur if their preferred candidate is elected: Forty percent foresee minor progress and 19 percent predict no change.
  • The prospect of the election’s impact on personal quality of life is expected to be much less than the impact made on the world.  Four-in-10 (41 percent) say it will have a great deal of impact on their personal life, and another 29 percent say it will have a moderate impact. A quarter (25 percent) believe the election will have either little or no impact.
    • There is a stark age and gender divide when it comes to Americans’ perceptions of the impact of the upcoming election:
      • Women and Americans 50 years and older are more likely than their counterparts to say they will see a great deal of impact caused by this election.
      • Eighty-five percent of women 50 years and older say this election will have a great deal of impact on America’s standing in the world. Slightly less confident, 73 percent of the other gender and age combinations, (men 18-49, women 18-49, men 50+) believe the election will have a great impact.
      • Half of women 50 years and older (51 percent) say the election will have a great deal of impact on their personal quality of life. The other gender and age combinations are less likely to say it will have a great impact on their life (for example, 31 percent of men and 41 percent of women ages 18-49, as well as 44 percent of men ages 50+).
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“These findings signal that after years of stalemate and partisan paralysis in Washington, most Americans’ first instinct now is to look for change instigated from the bottom up rather than the top down,” said Ronald Brownstein, Atlantic Media’s editorial director for strategic partnerships. “The political credo the poll suggests might be summarized as: argue nationally, act locally.”

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