News Release

New KFF/CNN Survey Finds Majority of Working-Class White Americans Optimistic About Their Own Lives, But Many Are Unhappy with the Direction of the Country

As the 2016 presidential election focuses attention on the perspectives of white Americans without college degrees, a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and CNN delves deeply into the views and experiences that shape their lives and their political leanings.

CNN is featuring findings from the poll in digital and on-air reports throughout this week, including in tonight’s edition of Anderson Cooper 360 at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The survey finds the majority of working-class whites say they are optimistic about how things are going in their own lives and are satisfied with their own personal financial situation. However, over half are very dissatisfied with the economic situation in the United States, and almost as many say America’s best days are behind us.

Other topics in the survey include personal experiences of working-class white Americans and their attitudes on broader issues, such as their satisfaction with government, economic priorities, immigration, and increasing racial and ethnic diversity.

The poll also compares this group’s views to those of college-educated whites and working-class blacks and Hispanics, and it details important divides in attitudes and experiences among working-class whites, noting differences by party affiliation, age, income, religion, region of the country, and whether they live in an urban or rural area.

Detailed results for select questions can be found here and the Foundation will post a full report on survey findings in the next few days.

Continuing CNN coverage is available here.

Teams from the Foundation and CNN worked together to develop the questionnaire and analyze the data. Each organization is solely responsible for the content it publishes based on the data. The survey was conducted from Aug. 9-Sept. 5 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,614 adults, including 701 working-class whites (defined for this poll as whites without 4-year college degrees). Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (471) and cell phone (1,143). The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 5 percentage points for results based on working-class whites.

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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.