Agenda poll: The country is in trouble, but there’s hope locally

Agenda poll: The country is in trouble, but there’s hope locally
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It’s inauguration week, and 84% of the 4,194 Agenda readers who responded to our survey this week believe the country is worse off than it was four years ago. But only 30% said they were worse off personally.

Why it matters: The concerns for the nation are deep, with the pandemic, the Capitol riots, and general division topping the list of written responses. But as you drilled down to the local and individual levels, readers were more optimistic. 

  • Charlotte is still growing. Jobs and corporations are still moving here. The real estate market is strong. And 55% of the respondents reported being in a better financial position than they were four years ago.

    Those who said the city is in worse shape today than in 2017 cited homelessness and the homicide rate.

    Of note: We know an emailed survey hardly provides a complete picture. But your responses reflected the more scientific community survey conducted by Mecklenburg County last fall.

    • That survey showed that 26% of county residents had favorable views of the federal government’s response to COVID-19, but 56% had favorable reviews of the local response.
    • “Residents remain in good spirits, while feeling stressed and worried in the midst of the pandemic,” the county’s survey summary stated.

    What they’re saying: I asked new Mecklenburg County commissioner Leigh Altman, a public-interest attorney and former assistant attorney general for the state of Georgia, what she made of the disparity. She credited the county health director, Gibbie Harris, with avoiding partisanship in the pandemic response.

    • “I think we’ve done a better job steering clear of that dynamic,” Altman told me Tuesday. “(That) has rightfully resulted in public confidence in her. That’s not to say everybody’s happy all the time. That’s actually impossible, because we have horrible choices.”

    My thought bubble: The cliche goes that change starts from within. Maybe that’s a good place to start, especially in Charlotte: just control what we can control and try to spread those seeds of local optimism.  

    • In fact, 68% of you think things will get better in the handful of years ahead.

    Why we did this: Inaugurations are good moments to make time capsules, especially this one. A recent Ipsos/Axios poll found that 83% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats believe the country is falling apart.

    We wanted to see how you’re doing. We’ll be diving deeper into your responses and the other survey questions in the coming days and weeks.

    But for now, here’s one quote to go: From one reader who said they’re “no better off financially” than four years ago: “You make the best of life. If life gives you lemons, you put lemons in your gin and tonics instead of limes.”


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