WASHINGTON – WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans remain a generally upbeat lot, but all the skepticism, snark and dismal rhetoric being bandied about may be taking their toll.
Nearly two-thirds of people answering a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press/Smithsonian Magazine poll said they are optimistic about their future and that of the country — and a majority expect the economy to be strong in the future.
But while it's still a positive picture, it's much less so than a just over a decade earlier.
Some 64 percent of those polled said they are optimistic about their future, for example, but that's down from 81 percent in a similar poll in 1999.
At the same time, the proportion optimistic about the nation's future slipped from 70 percent to 61 percent, and those expecting a stronger economy fell from 64 percent to 56 percent.
The poll was conducted by telephone, with 1,546 adults polled from April 21-26. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
If the changing attitude is the downside, Americans see quite a lot to look forward to when asked about the next 40 years.
For example, 71 percent expect cancer will be cured by 2050, 66 percent expect artificial limbs to be working better than real ones and 53 percent say ordinary people will travel in space.
But the message remains mixed, with 72 percent expecting a major energy crisis, 58 percent saying there is likely to be another world war and 53 percent anticipating a terrorist attack on the U.S. involving nuclear weapons.
Speaking of bad news, they don't expect to read about it in the morning paper, as 64 percent of Americans say printed newspapers will cease to exist by 2050.
Some 63 percent also anticipate the demise of paper money, and don't expect the check to be in the mail — 61 percent say almost no one will send letters by 2050.
Americans also had a mixed outlook on social issues, with 68 percent predicting race relations will improve by 2050, but 58 percent saying the gap between rich and poor will get bigger. Just half expect health care to be more affordable and only 49 percent anticipate improvement in public schools.
A whopping 89 percent expect to see a woman president within 40 years and 69 percent say a Latino president is likely.
A significant 41 percent of respondents expect Jesus Christ to return by 2050. That's the same share that expect to see a single world currency.
Just 31 percent expect the planet will be struck by an asteroid.
The poll may have found surprising results when it asked what amount of immigration would be needed to keep the country's economy strong: Some 34 percent said less, but 36 percent thought the current level of immigration was fine and 26 percent called for more new arrivals. The question did specify legal, not illegal, immigration.