A new Barna survey shows you're not the only one shaking your head about the November election while talking with friends in your pod at BlueCross, in the break room at Volkswagen, at the hip Edney Building start-up, in the Abba's House church aisle or at Bear's Barber Shop in Alton Park.
A whopping 72 percent of registered voters believe the United States is headed in the wrong direction, 82 percent feel "frustrated" with the federal government and 56 percent say they are "angry" toward the federal government.
Remarkably, survey respondents give 69 percent and 60 percent unfavorable ratings to the two people, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively, they have chosen as front-runners from the two major political parties for president of the United States.
"Voters are perhaps as upset with themselves as they are with the system and its inhabitants," 2016 election polling analyst George Barna said of the results. "They know something substantial must be done, but either they don't know what that prescription is or they don't have the courage to pursue it. The prevailing sentiment is that we are beyond the point of tinkering."
Such sentiment, seething in the country for the last two presidential administrations, produced the campaigns of both Trump, truly a government outsider, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, a government insider masquerading as an outsider.
Yet, if a national primary election had been held at the start of 2016 campaigning, neither candidate would have come close to winning a majority of their party's voters.
Perhaps that's because, based on the Barna report, we don't really know what we want.
A plurality — not a majority — of voters (45 percent) said they want a federal government that is "less active and far-reaching than we currently have." Just over a third of the respondents (34 percent) would keep things the way they are. And just over a fifth (21 percent) would have the federal government become "more active and far-reaching than we currently have."
The country's dissatisfaction, as evident in its candidates as well as in the survey, goes beyond the person who holds the country's governing reins.
After all, 45 percent of liberals in the survey believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Whether they think President Barack Obama, one of the most liberal men ever to hold the office, is too liberal or not liberal enough is not measured. Meanwhile, 87 percent of conservatives and 69 percent of moderates — perhaps giving Trump some hope — believe the country is off the rails.
The general discontentment extends to all religious segments surveyed by Barna and with the two candidates they have chosen.
More than nine of 10 evangelicals (93 percent), 80 percent of non-evangelical, born-again Christians, 72 percent of notional Christians, 63 percent of religious skeptics and 59 percent of voters aligned with a non-Christian faith say the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction.
Trump was most favored by notional Christians (34 percent) and evangelicals and non-evangelical, born-again Christians (31 percent each) and least favored by members of non-Christian faiths (77 percent) and religious skeptics (76 percent).
Meanwhile, Clinton was most favored by religious skeptics (46 percent) and adherents of non-Christian faiths (43 percent) and least favored by evangelicals (81 percent) and non-evangelical, born-again Christians (76 percent).
Survey results of the direction of the country and dissatisfaction with candidates, of course, do not equate with votes in a presidential election.
After all, according to the Real Clear Politics poll measuring the direction of country, not once during the presidential administration of Barack Obama have respondents felt the country was headed in the right direction. And on only one occasion, June 15, 2009, did the percentage of respondents (45.8 percent) who felt the country was headed in the right direction equal those who felt the country was headed in the wrong direction. Yet, Obama was re-elected handily in 2012.
The Barna survey is but a snapshot — taken in mid-April — of our political temperament. It offers no solutions but should say to Republican Donald Trump and Democratic Hillary Clinton, front-runners both, that the country is screaming for a new direction. Unfortunately, the same survey also indicates the respondents' lack of confidence in those they picked to take it in a new direction.
Given the results, and the outcome (either way) in November, it's likely those shaking their heads now are likely to continue to do so for at least the next four years.