Back to News New Fishlinger Center Optimism Index™ Shows Americans Increasingly Concerned about National Leadership and Social Progress

New Fishlinger Center Optimism Index™ Shows Americans Increasingly Concerned about National Leadership and Social Progress


The Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research at the College of Mount Saint Vincent has launched a breakthrough measurement of public opinion: the Fishlinger Optimism Index™. The index helps to summarize and unpack the reasons for American confidence in the future.

The Fishlinger Optimism Index™ measures the public’s expectations for the effectiveness of federal policy, the quality of national leadership, the prospect for social progress, personal prosperity, and U.S security and leadership in global affairs.

The first Fishlinger Optimism Index™ report measures significant swings in public opinion since the presidential election in November.



Post Inauguration


Month One


Fishlinger Optimism Index™ 65 74 63

Given public demonstrations or protests following Donald Trump’s election it is striking that the Index powerfully demonstrates increased optimism in the days immediately following the inauguration. However, five weeks after the inauguration, public optimism has slumped slightly below pre-inauguration levels.

The Fishlinger Optimism Index™ includes five sub-scores enabling refined analysis of public sentiment

Sub-score Index
Federal Policy 49 60 53
National Leadership 56 58 47
Social Progress 59 50 46
Personal Prosperity 52 71 51
World Affairs 57 63 60

Following the inauguration public optimism deteriorated regarding national leadership and social progress. Optimism about U.S. security and role in world affairs stayed relatively high. Perhaps surprising given controversies about NATO, Russia, the Middle East and immigration.

As the new administration continues to unfold, the Fishlinger Optimism Index™ will comprehensively measure public optimism and provide refined measures of consistent or shifting opinion.

Survey Methodology
Unlike other indices, the Fishlinger Optimism Index™ is more than economics, and is built from optimism data on 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 public officials.

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 from Survey Sampling Inc. Interviews were conducted November 30 through December 15, 2016; January 3 through January 31, 2017 with 1,000 adults with a credibility interval of plus or minus 3 percentage points, and February 20 through February 23, 2017 with 272 adults with a credibility interval of plus or minus 5 percentage points. The credibility interval is larger for subgroups and for differences between polls.

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

About the Fishlinger Center for Public Policy
The Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research opened in February 2015 at the College 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 College 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 College of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the College 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.