72 Percent of Republicans Fear New Year

For Republicans, it may be the season to be jolly, but not optimistic.

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President Barack Obama gestures as he talks about the fiscal cliff negotiations during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in Washington.
President Barack Obama gestures as he talks about the fiscal cliff negotiations at the White House in December.

For Republicans, it may be the season to be jolly, but not optimistic.

Seventy-two percent of Republicans are fearful about their future in 2013, and 79 percent fear for the world, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. This is a substantial increase in GOP gloom since 2006, when only 20 percent said they were fearful about their personal future during the Republican presidency of George W. Bush. Fifty-four percent of Republicans were fearful about their personal prospects after Democrat Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008.

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In contrast, three-quarters of Democrats are hopeful about their own lives today, the same as in 2008, the poll found, as are half of independents.

Overall, 53 percent of Americans say they are hopeful for themselves in 2013, and 44 percent are more fearful, but 56 percent are more fearful for the world in general. This represents a decline in optimism from four years ago, when President Obama was poised to take office and when 63 percent said they were hopeful about their future.

President Barack Obama gestures as he talks about the fiscal cliff negotiations during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in Washington.
President Barack Obama gestures as he talks about the fiscal cliff negotiations at the White House in December.

[RELATED: Public Sours on What 2013 Will Bring]

Among the reasons cited by the pollsters for the relatively unsettled mood are perceptions of a lingering recession and a weak economic recovery, and fears of the economic sinking into trouble if Washington leaders fail to reach an agreement on the budget. More than three-quarters say the economy is still in a recession, despite some signs of improvement. About 53 percent say that based on their own experience, the economy has begun to recover, though weakly.

While 55 percent are optimistic about the policies of President Obama in his second term, 51 percent are pessimistic about the ability of Obama and congressional Republicans to work together. Obama and congressional leaders are involved in negotiations to find a compromise that would avoid the "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that are scheduled to start phasing in January 1.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and Congress for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com, and followed on Facebook and Twitter.