"They're getting more bullish, but I bet if you went back and looked historically, this is pretty normal for this part of the cycle—that everybody is bullish," Bernstein said. "The skepticism is waning. That should happen, but when skepticism wanes and it becomes overenthusiastic, that's a big difference. But I don't think we're there."
Hartnett said it's interesting that none of the strategists see a lasting decline in stocks. Some, like Bob Doll of Nuveen, expect a 10 percent drop before the S&P resumes its rise, ending the year at 1,950.
"I think the best case for the bears is that no one's looking for the market to fall," Hartnett said. "The best case for the bulls is the survey shows there's a lot of cash on the sidelines."
The market is becoming more expensive, he added, and value investors are having a tough time finding opportunities.
"One of the biggest pain trades for the past five years is long volatility," Hartnett said.
Even so, he added, "plenty of things could go wrong: the Middle East, China, housing in the U.S. But ... central banks have to lose some credibility for volatility to pick up. You either need a 1994, where the Fed looked behind the curve; or a 1998 event, where emerging markets cause forced easing by the Fed."
Even with big names missing this earnings season, the fourth quarter had a pickup in positive surprises on the top line compared with the third. Though revenue growth is weak, about 66 percent have beaten revenue targets.
Profit growth will not be robust but "will continue to accelerate from here," Bernstein said. "That's important because ... the profit growth cycle ... troughed about a quarter or so ago. Earnings growth will continue to improve but in an anemic fashion. Everyone's saying if profit margins contract, that would be bearish."
But declining profit margins do not need to be bearish, according to Bernstein.
"The whole 1980s bull market was built on declining profit margins," he said. "If margins contract, it doesn't mean the market goes down. It all becomes a market share story. Our favorite remains small cap industrials. By far and away that's our favorite. They're gaining market share. ... As capital spending picks up, these guys are going to benefit big time. I think both cap spending and M&A will pick up."
About 80 S&P 500 companies had reported as of Wednesday morning, and 61 percent beat earnings estimates. Earnings are expected to increase 7.2 percent this quarter, based on actual reports and estimates for companies yet to report, according to Thomson Reuters.
—By CNBC's Patti Domm. Follow here on Twitter