The gap between Democrats and Republicans on the Life Evaluation Index is now 16.6 points — the largest it has ever been. This is also a drastic change from early 2008, when Republicans’ life ratings frequently surpassed Democrats’ by more than 10 points.
These data show a clear, although complex, relationship between political views and life ratings. In 2008, when a Republican — George W. Bush — was in the White House, Republicans’ life ratings far surpassed those of Democrats. This began to change when President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. Interestingly — and perhaps because of the compounding effects of the financial crisis — Republicans’ life ratings did not decline as significantly nor did Democrats’ ratings increase as much in November 2008, when Obama won his first term in office, as they did this November.
Democrats’ and Republicans’ life ratings generally remained relatively close through most of Obama’s first term — Democrats did not become much more positive. This may have been due to the recession and economic crisis — the effects of these issues on everyone’s life outlook seem to have far outweighed any political bonus Democrats might have otherwise experienced at the time.