People are tuned out. 

Every month or two, I meet a few friends from our church for beers and fried food at a local bar. We often commiserate about the political news of the day, seldom disagreeing. Ours is a particularly moderate brand of Christianity, with a rainbow flag flying outside the sanctuary.

Recently, though, I can’t recall politics coming up at all. We talk family and sports and travel and TV, with a smattering of church business. But no Trump, no Biden, and – this week – not even college protests. Our minds are simply elsewhere.

We’re not alone.

Last month, America’s attention to politics reached a new low. For the first time in the 9+ years we’ve tracked it, more U.S. adults follow politics “not at all closely” than those who follow it “very closely.” The stat is especially mind-boggling when it’s what many believe to be an existential-level election year.  

I’ve alluded to the overall trend before, presuming it would begin to reverse “any minute now.” That minute has yet to come. The percentage of Americans who post about politics on social media has fallen steadily since December. Readership of political websites and blogs is in similar decline.  

It’s not like there’s a shortage of meat in the news for political carnivores. But most people are choosing blissful (or cynical) veganism. Blame it on any number of things: plummeting institutional trust, two super-familiar presidential candidates, a desire for emotional well-being, or perhaps a general sense of apathy – that it doesn’t really matter all that much.

I wouldn’t blame you if that bit after the Oxford comma made your blood pressure rise. Women’s rights, the economy, national security, the world order, and even the very essence of our democracy could be at stake in November. Or maybe you think it’s hyperbole.

The problem is that endless catastrophizing by the media and political class – whether true or simply to garner clicks – has become, to many, a bunch of boys and girls crying wolf. Alas, few of us know what – or who – to believe. It all becomes white noise.

And, thus, our individual political calculus is at its most reductive: Were things better before or are they better now? We can’t predict the future or trust anyone who says they can. So, we rely on our own experience, however revisionist it might be. 

I’m certainly not judging anyone for their political malaise, worrisome as it may be. 

We came by it honestly.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

If you haven’t taken care of your Mother’s Day obligations yet, don’t blow it. Our Emotional Well-Being Index was essentially flat in April, after climbing from a February swoon in March. The results mask some generational differences, with Baby Boomers reporting a decline and Gen Xers reporting an improvement. Zs and Millennials were steady. One group that showed considerable gains month-over-month was parents, especially moms. But before you celebrate that fact, know that moms register the lowest emotional well-being of all – by a lot. Do something awesome for the moms in your life. 

That doesn’t mean you need to spend a bunch of money on Mother’s Day gifts, but it doesn’t hurt. Overall spending on Mom’s day may fall slightly this year, as fewer buyers plan to drop over $100 (boo), even though more people plan to shop in general (yay). Intent to purchase flowers has declined by 4 percentage points over 2023, while gift card intent grew by the same (seriously, you can do better than that). Anyway, what moms really want is quality time with their families, a nice dinner, and maybe a handmade card or gift from their kids. Take note.

Adding to moms’ stress is the hassle of planning family vacations. In fairness, it sucks for vacation-planning dads too – and everyone. Seventy-one percent of Americans say that planning and booking travel arrangements is at least somewhat stressful, with the number jumping to 78% among parents of school-aged kids. Commercial air travel is especially onerous for parents, as everything from packing to airport security is more difficult. To make matters worse, parents with young kids are more likely to choose less convenient or comfortable accommodations to fit within a budget. Hopefully the vacation itself is worth all the effort. 

Grocery buyers are growing increasingly wary of GMOs. In our 3 Things to Know this week, we looked at the decade-long rise in concerns about genetically modified organisms in our food, a trend that has accelerated particularly fast over the past year. It’s not just a social responsibility gesture either – consumers are far more likely to say non-GMO foods are tastier and healthier. In other news, we found that more potential homebuyers are looking to co-purchase a home with non-romantic partners to help defray the costs. Finally, we gauged the latest public opinion on the new wave of bird flu hitting our marine mammals and livestock.

Support for reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug has weakened over the past year, except among people who are worried about crime. To be clear, a near-majority of Americans still believe weed should be reclassified as a Schedule III substance. The gap has merely shrunk, going from 22% net support to just 17%. Millennials are most in favor of it, while Gen Xers are the least. I don’t know why. What’s particularly interesting is that when we cut the data by whether people are concerned about crime and violence in their communities, those in higher crime areas are most likely to support the softer designation. 

More awesomeness from the InsightStore:

The most popular questions this week:

How do you store hot sauce?

Do you believe in unidentified flying objects (UFOs)?

Do you expect to retire at some point in your life?

Do you prefer to buy new or used cars?

Do you consider yourself a pasta lover?

How often do you fly?

Answer Key: With a dozen other hot sauces on the shelf in our fridge; Not yet; A million percent; Used, because I’d rather spend my money on other things; Definitely; 2-3 times a month.

Hoping you’re well,


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