The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 31, 2013

DIGITS: Optimism over 2014 roughly a 50-50 deal

About half of Americans expect 2014 to be a better year than 2013, according to the recent AP-Times Square New Year's Eve poll. And judging by the typical questions pollsters use to measure the public mood, it doesn't seem like it could be much worse.

A look at how the public rated the nation's performance in 2013:

RIGHT DIRECTION? NOT QUITE YET

Whether people think the nation is heading the right way or the wrong way is a basic measure of optimism that pollsters have used for decades to gauge the public mood. In AP-GfK polling this year, few thought the United States had found the right path.

The December AP-GfK poll showed the share of Americans who feel the nation is heading in the right direction rebounded to 34 percent from its October low of 22 percent, but it's not clear yet whether that's a directional shift or just a temporary recovery — what Wall Street calls a dead-cat bounce.

On average in this year's AP-GfK polls, 33 percent said the country was heading the right way, down from 38 percent in 2012 but about on par with the 2011 average of 32 percent. That 2011 figure marked the low point of President Barack Obama's time in office.

This year, average "right direction" numbers among Republicans (10 percent) and independents (24 percent) are at new lows for Obama's term, but Democrats buoy this year's figure with 54 percent saying the nation is on the right path, a bit above 2011's average of 47 percent.

OBAMA'S APPROVAL FALLS

Obama's approval ratings shifted notably this year, landing in negative territory on average for the first time in his presidency. In AP-GfK polling conducted this year that averaged the president's approval rating, 46 percent approved of the president's job performance, while 50 percent disapproved.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Man accused of abusing 2 girls in 'Maidens Group' MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Authorities were searching Tuesday for a self-professed minister accused of sexually abusing at least two girls in a "Maidens Group" at his religious fellowship in rural Minnesota, where he told one victim she would remain a virgin

    April 15, 2014

  • Deputy shot, wounded in Norman County PERLEY, Minn. (AP) — Authorities say a 19-year-old man from Fertile is under arrest for shooting a sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop in northwestern Minnesota. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the Norman County deputy was wear

    April 15, 2014

  • Red River Valley touted as drone industry center THIEF RIVER FALLS (AP) — Dozens of representatives from agriculture, aviation and higher education are meeting in northwestern Minnesota to discuss ways to promote the region as a center for development of the aircraft industry which produces unmanne

    April 15, 2014

  • Balancing Act: The secret weapon behind work life balance We all struggle for work life balance, but most of us don’t realize that sometimes the path toward achieving might be something so simple. Some of the most successful people I know are sharing their secret weapon for remaining strong and finding bal

    April 15, 2014

  • Police: Suspected killers wore GPS devices ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Two convicted sex offenders dutifully checked in with police every month and wore their GPS trackers around the clock — the rules of parole that are designed to tip off authorities if a freed felon backslides. Yet for at least

    April 15, 2014

  • More US consumers are seeking medical care, report shows A historic slowdown in U.S. health care spending in recent years may be drawing to a close. An industry report published this week and health care experts point to a steady rise in medical care being sought by consumers seeing specialists, getting m

    April 15, 2014

  • Man sentenced to 20 years in synthetic drug case FARGO, N.D. (AP) — One of 15 people to plead guilty in a synthetic drug conspiracy that resulted in the overdose deaths of two teenagers has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Casey Rosen (row-ZEEN') pleaded guilty in January 2013 to conspiracy to

    April 14, 2014

  • White House news group honors black reporter it once barred WASHINGTON — Harry S. McAlpin made history in February 1944 when he became the first black reporter to cover a presidential news conference at the White House. Time magazine and The New York Times noted the milestone. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt,

    April 14, 2014

  • Worn down by health problems, woman discovers art of living MILWAUKEE — For the second time in her life, Tessa Koller sat in a hospital examination room listening to a doctor deliver bad news. A defect in her coronary artery required surgery. She was 25. Tessa heard the doctor say something about “sudden dea

    April 14, 2014

  • Illinois Lottery app stirs up controversy SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — When Illinois launched its first-in-the-nation lottery app in January, Matthew Ruder quickly signed up so he could jockey for jackpots with just a tap of the finger on his smartphone. “It’s really easy to buy lottery tickets on t

    April 14, 2014