Americans saw 2021 as ‘chaos’ and a ‘train wreck’ but are hopeful about 2022, USA TODAY/Suffolk poll shows – USA TODAY

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Let’s hope they’re right.

After searching for the words to convey just how awful 2021 was, close to half of Americans say the one word that best describes their mood about 2022 is “hopeful.”

The proportion who feel that way is more than double the less optimistic options that finished lower on the list. But there is still significant wariness and weariness about what’s coming next.

Asked their view of the year ahead, respondents in a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll say they are: 

1. Hopeful – 46%

2. Worried – 19%

3. Exhausted – 18%

At polar opposites are the 8% who say they are “enthusiastic” and the 7% who describe their dominant emotion as “fearful.”

The survey of 1,000 registered voters, taken by cellphone and landline Dec. 27 to Dec. 30, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

In a poll that finds the nation’s familiar fractures over politics and COVID-19, there is overwhelming unity about one thing: Nearly everyone is glad to see 2021 in the rearview mirror. The only debate is over which word best describes the year that battered Americans with a pandemic, extreme weather and an assault on the Capitol.

Among the words volunteered in response to the open-ended question to describe 2021 in a single word: 

1. Awful/terrible/bad/sucked – 23%

2. Chaos/confusing/turmoil – 12%

3. Challenging/hard/rough – 11%

4. Disaster/train wreck/catastrophe – 6%

4. (Tied) Okay/good – 6%

In all, just 14% offered adjectives that were positive, assuming “exciting” is a good thing. The rest chose various versions of bad, from “catastrophe” and “chaos” to “frightening” and “failure.”

Then there is the 1% who described 2021 this way: “Long.”

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