Have you found yourself worrying a lot more about the state of the world and the future of our country since Donald Trump was elected 45th President of the United States? If so, you’re not alone.
According to a new report from Gallup, there’s been a sharp increase since November in the percentage of Americans who say they experience a lot of worry during any given day.
The average percentage experiencing worry on any given day has increased 4.1 percentage points to 33.3% since early November. Higher levels of worry were first evident after Donald Trump’s election in November, but they continued to rise in January and grew more in the first month of Trump’s presidency.
This sharp uptick in daily worrying is – like so many other things in American politics these days – nearly unprecedented. According to Gallup, such a sharp spike in worrying has not been observed since 2008, when we were on the brink of a financial meltdown and at the onset of the Great Recession.
Moreover, Americans’ present anxieties seem to reflect something entirely unique about the election of Donald Trump, rather than just “typical concern among those whose candidate lost the election.” The present increase in daily worry among Democrats and Independents greatly surpasses anything similar observed among Republicans and Independents after the election of Barack Obama in 2008.
The percentage of Americans who say they experienced daily worry increased 1.6 points in the first month after Trump’s election, from 29.2% to 30.8%. In January prior to Inauguration Day, it edged up 0.9 points and then rose another 1.6 points in the first month of Trump’s presidency. This 4.1-point rise in worry since October is the largest increase seen over a four-month period since the 5.4-point increase recorded in June through October 2008, during the Great Recession and leading up to the financial meltdown that fall [emphasis added].
Clearly signaling that Trump’s election and presidency are factors in the recent rise in worry, Democrats’ worry has increased much more than Republicans’ and independents’ since last fall. As a result, Democrats (39.3%) are now much more likely than Republicans (26.5%) and independents (33.6%) to say they worried “a lot of the day yesterday.”
Notably, the increase in the percentage of Democrats feeling worried since Trump’s victory is significantly greater than the increase among Republicans after Obama’s win in 2008, 8.5 points vs. 1.3 points, respectively. Worry is up more sharply among independents since the 2016 election (2.9 points) than it was after the 2008 election (0.7 points) [emphasis added].
So, what exactly are Americans worrying about now that Trump is president? On that point, Gallup’s report provides few details.
However, a recent Huffington Post/You Gov Poll found that, while fears related to terrorist attacks and gun violence have come down substantially since the fall, fears about illness, injury, and financial difficulties have held roughly steady for the most part.
In February 2017, 38 percent of Americans reported feeling worried that they or a close family member will be personally affected by serious illness or injury. The same percentage reported feeling worried that they or a close family member will be personally affected by job loss or financial problems. Each of these numbers was down only slightly from 42 percent in September 2016.
Brian Kurilla is a psychological scientist with a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology. You can follow Brian on Twitter @briankurilla