WISCONSIN — An Exclusive Spectrum News/Siena College Poll shows a majority of Wisconsinites are overall pessimistic about the future of the state and the country. 

Wherever we look, we can often find divisiveness around us. As a country, we’re dealing with election misinformation, the first major changes to federal abortion rights in nearly 50 years, a years-long pandemic and now, an inflation spike. 

When asked whether Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, only 33% of those polled said we’re on the right track, while 48% of the respondents said we’re headed in the wrong direction. 

“What it indicates is that this is a very tumultuous political time, has been for several years, and certainly continues right now,” said Siena College Pollster Steve Greenberg. “There’s a huge partisan divide in this country, and certainly in Wisconsin as well right now.” 

Democrats were more likely to say we’re on track than Republicans: 51% of Democrats said Wisconsin is headed the right way, while only 16% of Republicans agreed. 29% of independents said the same. 

If we expand that question to cover the entire country, the numbers drop. Only 27% of Wisconsinites polled believe America’s headed in the right direction, while 65% said the country is off course. Based on those numbers, it seems Wisconsinites have more faith in the state than in the state of the nation. 

The poll also asked people how they feel about the state of our democracy and the future of the country. 41% of people were very or somewhat optimistic, while 53% were very or somewhat pessimistic. Again, in response to this question, Republicans were more likely to say they were pessimistic. 

Then, participants were asked to look at life through a micro-lens: how do they feel about the future of themselves and their families? This is where there was the most optimism, with 66% of Wisconsinites saying they feel good about their futures, while 31% don’t. 

“Truthfully, I feel bad for those people. You want to hope people have hope,” Greenberg said. “The fact that nearly two-thirds of Wisconsinites have the hope that the future is going to be better for them and their family, that’s a good thing.” 

And that question had an interesting bell curve based on age. The youngest citizens, ages 18 to 34, and the oldest, ages 65 and older, felt the most optimistic. However, the numbers dropped for people in between at ages 35 to 64. 

These results reflect what can often be hard to describe: a feeling of discontentment with the direction of culture and politics.

Even if you and your neighbor are on total opposite sides of the political spectrum, there’s a good chance neither of you is happy with the way things are going right now. 

View the full poll results here. The exclusive poll surveyed 651 likely Wisconsin voters Sept. 14-15. It has a margin of error of +/-4.5%.