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Fishlinger Optimism Index: Americans’ Concerns About Federal Policy, National Leadership Grow


The new Fishlinger Optimism Index™, a breakthrough measurement of public opinion centered on Americans’ optimism about the future from the Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research at the University of Mount Saint Vincent, indicates that Americans’ concerns about federal policy, national leadership, and social progress increased in March. In contrast, optimism about personal prosperity and world affairs has held steady.

The spike in anxiety may be attributable to the failure of the current administration to repeal Obamacare and pass new healthcare reform. But it appears that recent events, such as Congress’s probe into Russian influence in the presidential election, as well as the terrorist attacks outside British Parliament, have not influenced Americans’ perceptions of world affairs as much as expected. In addition, perhaps the slight uptick in personal prosperity is a result of promised tax reform. The stock market has also remained stable during this period.

University of Mount Saint Vincent Fishlinger Center
January February March
Fishlinger Optimism Index™ 70 63 55
        Federal policy 55 53 43
        National leadership 57 47 41
        Social progress 55 46 39
        Personal prosperity 62 51 53
        World affairs 60 60 60

The Fishlinger Optimism Index™ is more than an economic measurement. It is built on optimism data for public officials. social/political issues, beliefs about the United States’ place in the world, and a series of value statements dealing with individual’s feelings of success and security, as well as from ratings of government policies and officials.

In measuring national leadership, the Fishlinger Optimism Index™ assesses public expectations for the effectiveness of federal policy and quality of governance both domestically and in global affairs. Social progress examines the potential for progressive reform. Personal prosperity explores individuals’ sense of achievement and economic stability

Survey Methodology
In this study, the Fishlinger Center conducted online national surveys focusing on political issues in the United States. The fieldwork for the polls was conducted using a blended national panel form Survey Sampling, Inc. Interviews were conducted November 29-December 15, 2016 and January 3- March 31. The credibility interval for 1,000 respondents is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The credibility interval is larger for subgroups and for differences between polls.

In addition to credibility interval, the polls are subject to other potential sources of error including, but not limited to, coverage and measurement error. Data was rim weighted to match the national population on age, sex, Hispanic origin, and race. Question wording and topline results are available via email at

About the Fishlinger Center for Public Policy
The Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research opened in February 2015 at the University of Mount Saint Vincent. The Center conducts deep and broad studies of public opinion on key public policy concerns through independent and objective research conducted by students, faculty, and other members of the academic community.

By providing a forum for discourse that can stimulate intelligent dialog about issues that deeply affect all Americans, the Center illustrates and enhances the relationship between the work of the College and the common good.

James F. Donius, Ph.D., director of the Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research at the University of Mount Saint Vincent, is available to speak to members of the press about the survey, the Fishlinger Optimism Index™, and the Center. To arrange an interview, or for more information about the study, please contact Public Relations at

About the University of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the University of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of achievement, professional accomplishment and leadership in the 21st century.