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Optimism Falls in March


The 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 fell from 59 in February to 56 in March ’18.Graphic titled "Fishlinger Optimism Index tm."

Optimism fell both overall and on key dimensions in response to unprecedented events. Interestingly, only National Leadership held steady perhaps in response to the strong international stand taken on Russian involvement in the London poisoning of a former Russian spy, as well as the recent trip of the North Korean head to China and planned visit to South Korea and possible meeting with President Trump.

Things started to unravel last month with the removal of security clearances for a White House aide and for the President’s son-in law Jared Kushner followed by White House Secretary Rob Porter’s resignation on charges of alleged spousal abuse.

This was  then followed by a series of firings and resignations starting with close advisor Hope Hicks, then the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson replaced by Mike Pompeo, the current CIA Director, chief economic advisor Gary Cohn replaced by CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow, National Security advisor HR McMaster replaced by former UN Ambassador John Bolton. All replacements are advisors more likely to share President Trump’s views.

In addition, Chief White House Counsel John Dowd resigned as the Mueller investigation expanded to include the Trump Organization. Also, the reaction of markets to the proposed tariffs on China was initially very negative.

Graphic titled "Fishlinger Optimism Index tm."

Then there were the allegations of marital infidelity and cover-up payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, adult pornographic film star and producer. This was followed by a harassment charge from a former contestant on the Apprentice. The former has been widely covered in the media including television prime time interviews with Anderson Cooper on CNN and Sixty Minutes.

Finally, the thousands of gun control protesters in the March for our Lives undoubtedly had an effect as well. Quite a month.

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

In measuring national leadership, 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 poll was conducted using a blended national panel form Survey Sampling, Inc. Interviews were conducted March 1-29, 2018. The credibility interval for 1,000 respondents is plus or minus four 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 was 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 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.