Americans may not know what to call the last ten years (The aughts? The ’00s? The noughties?), but as the public gathers at parties to watch the ball drop on 2009 many will not be sad to see the last decade go, whatever it may be called. By roughly a two-to-one margin Americans have an unfavorable view of the 2000s. Fully half the country has a generally negative impression of the last decade, while only 27% have a generally positive impression. This is in sharp contrast to how previous decades are viewed today. Majorities have generally positive impressions of the ’90s and ’80s, and a 40%-plurality say the ’70s were a good decade. Possibly the passage of time has helped previous decades in the minds of Americans, but based on what the public is saying today about the 2000s it may be a while before we look back fondly on the last 10 years. When asked to give a word or phrase to characterize the past decade, the most common response was “downhill.” Other less-than-inspiring words for the past 10 years include poor, decline, chaotic, disaster, scary, and depressing. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.