Most think the year was a bad one for Canada, the U.S., and the world at large
December 28, 2016 – “Worst year ever”: that’s one pop culture narrative about 2016. From the humanitarian crises unfolding in Syria to terror attacks, world-re-ordering election outcomes and a parade of celebrity deaths – for many, this year seemed marked by more sadness and more uncertainty than previous ones.
While there’s no way to definitively declare a year the “worst ever” – a new public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute finds Canadians largely feeling gloomy about the past 12 months.
Asked whether the year has been good or bad for themselves, their country, and the world at large, Canadians take a dim view of all three. Equal numbers say the year was good and bad on a personal level, while Canadians are more likely to say 2016 was bad for Canada than to say it was good. They feel even more negatively about the year’s impact on the United States and the rest of the world.
- Some two-in-three Canadians (65%) say the year in which Americans elected Donald Trump president was a bad one for their neighbours to the south
- More than half (53%) say 2016 was bad for their own individual province, and more Canadians say it was bad for their country (38%) than good (25%)
- Canadians are split over whether the last 12 months have been good to them personally, though those under age 35 are more positive about the year they’ve had
2016: just OK at the individual level
For all the ill will being expressed toward 2016, most Canadians say the year was either good or neutral to them, personally. Some one-in-three (31%) say the year has been more bad than good in their lives, while the same number say it has been more good than bad. The largest group choses “neutral”:
Subtracting the percentage who say the year has been bad from the percentage who say it has been good yields a “momentum score,” which can be used to facilitate easy comparisons between demographic groups.
Overall, Canadians give 2016’s effect on their personal lives a momentum score of 0, but scores are considerably higher among those under age 35, and lower for those between 35 and 54.
A bad year for Canada?
Canadians feel less positively about what this year meant for their country. Some 38 per cent say 2016 was more bad than good for Canada, while one-in-four (25%) say it was more good than bad, for a momentum score of -13.
And while Canadians collectively give their provinces a lower score than the country, there is significant regional variation on this measure.
Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta – both provinces that have been hard-hit by the low price of oil and seen unemployment rise throughout the year – are feeling particularly miserable about 2016, while Manitobans – fresh off a year in which they replaced a deeply disliked provincial government with a new one headed by the country’s second-most-popular premier – are most upbeat. They are followed by those in B.C., where the negative momentum score is least stark:
A disaster for the rest of the world
As badly as Canadians feel 2016 went for their own country, they believe the year was even worse for the rest of the world.
The reasons for these judgments are not hard to understand. As 2016 winds down, Canadians see daily headlines about evacuations in Eastern Aleppo and the ongoing refugee crisis that grips the lives of millions. Though Google searches for the term “worst year ever” often spike in December, they have never been this high since the company began tracking in 2004:
The story that dominated the news cycle in the United States was the presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. While Trump lost out to “Pokemon Go” in sheer search volume for 2016, he was the most searched person of 2016. Trump’s dominance of all things media is likely a key to why Canadians say 2016 was more bad than good in the U.S.
The Angus Reid Institute found that Americans on both sides of the political divide viewed the election on a whole as damaging to the country, and Canadians expect Trump’s impact to be negative for U.S. relations with both Canada and the rest of the world.
Looking at momentum scores indicates clearly the size of the gap between Canadian views of 2016 within their borders and outside of them:
Whether it’s at home or abroad, clearly 2016 left a lot to be desired for most Canadians. But what about 2017? The Angus Reid Institute asked Canadians whether they’re hopeful, or expect more of the same for the coming year. Look for those results early in the new year.
The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research organization established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.
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