Americans routinely tell pollsters that while things are ok in their neck of the woods, the rest of the country is going to hell. E.g., my local school is good, but American education is a disaster. Congress is awful, but I like my own Congressman.
via Kevin Drum, comes this weird poll that included questions about whether 2015 was better or worse than 2014 for you and for the country, and also whether people expected to do better in 2016. It shows that a large majority thought 2015 had been better than 2014 for them personally, and a bigger majority expected 2016 to be even better for them. Yet most thought 2015 was worse than 2014 for the country as a whole.
What could be behind this, except for the media? The relentless attention of mass shootings, terrorists, refugees, and so on, things that directly affect only a handful of people? The relentless negativity of presidential candidates and other newshogs?
When it comes to their own lives, people can judge for themselves how things are going. But nobody has any personal sense of life across a vast nation of 300 million. For that, we rely on the media and our leaders, and for various reasons they prefer to accentuate the negative. Pessimism and anxiety are the result.