Americans Fear About the Economy

By US Daily Review Staff. Source: Harris Interactive.

As the New Year dawns, it is a time when many look to the upcoming months full of optimism and hope. Unfortunately, when it comes to economic expectations this optimism may not be felt this year. When asked to compare to last year, just 14% of Americans say they feel more secure about their financial situation while two in five (41%) say they feel less secure and 41% say they feel the same as last year.  At the end of 2010, one in five U.S. adults (19%) said they felt more secure while 42% felt less secure; 36% felt the same as the previous year.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,237 adults surveyed online between December 5 and 12, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

As this is an election year, it’s interesting to see how these feelings of security, or lack of it, break down by political party. Over half of Republicans (55%) say they feel less secure while 7% say they feel more secure.  Democrats are slightly more optimistic about what the current year will hold as one in five (20%) feel more secure and 28% feel less secure; half (49%) of Democrats feel the same as last year. For Independents, over two in five (43%) feel less secure and 14% feel more secure.

A look at household finances
One in five Americans (19%) ended 2011 saying they expected their household’s financial condition to be better in the next six months, half (53%) believe it will remain the same and 28% believe it will be worse. Last January, as 2011 dawned, over one-quarter (27%) believed their household’s financial situation would be better in the coming six months, 27% believed it would be worse and under half (46%) believed it would be about the same.

Again, looking at political party, Republicans are more pessimistic than Democrats are about the coming six months. Just one in ten Republicans (9%) believes their household’s financial condition will be better compared to 30% of Democrats. Among Independents, one-third (33%) believe the financial condition of their household will be worse in the next six months while 17% believe it will be better.

President Obama’s handling of the economy
This year brings the presidential election and how people perceive President Obama’s handling of the economy will have a large impact on how he does in November. As 2011 ended, one-quarter of Americans (25%) gave the President positive ratings on his handling of the economy while 75% gave him negative ratings. In November, 22% gave President Obama positive marks while 78% gave him negative ones.

So What?
In 1992, as Bill Clinton was running for election, his campaign came up with the one mantra they would use throughout the general election – “it’s the economy, stupid.” The thought was that people were hurting and as long as the campaign could show their candidate had answers to help, they would prevail.  They were right and it just proved something long known in politics – people vote with their wallets. This election will be more of the same and people are hurting. President Obama needs to shore up his economic approval number to have a chance of prevailing in the general election.

TABLE 1
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND
“Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?”

Base: All adults

2009
March April May June Aug Sept Nov Dec
% % % % % % % %
POSITIVE (NET) 47 49 46 43 39 40 34 36
      Excellent 13 13 10 3 9 7 6 6
      Pretty good 34 36 36 34 31 33 27 30
NEGATIVE (NET) 53 51 54 57 61 60 66 64
      Only fair 30 27 30 27 25 27 30 30
      Poor 23 24 24 30 36 33 37 34

2010
Jan Mar Apr May June Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
% % % % % % % % % %
POSITIVE (NET) 31 32 33 36 32 32 29 27 31 30
      Excellent 5 5 6 6 5 6 5 5 5 5
      Pretty good 25 27 27 30 27 26 24 22 26 25
NEGATIVE (NET) 69 68 67 64 68 68 71 73 69 70
      Only fair 31 30 31 29 32 29 31 33 30 34
      Poor 39 37 36 34 37 39 40 39 39 36

2011
Jan Feb* Mar May June July Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
% % % % % % % % % %
POSITIVE (NET) 33 33 33 32 27 26 21 23 22 25
      Excellent 7 9 5 7 5 3 2 3 3 4
      Pretty good 26 24 28 26 22 23 18 20 20 22
NEGATIVE (NET) 67 62 67 68 73 74 79 77 78 75
      Only fair 30 22 29 28 30 33 33 36 32 34
      Poor 37 39 38 40 43 41 46 41 46 41

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; *In February “Not at all sure” was offered as a response choice and 4% responded in that way.


TABLE 2
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – BY POLITICAL PARTY
“Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?”

Base: All adults

Total Political Party Philosophy
Rep. Dem. Ind. Cons. Mod. Lib.
% % % % % % %
POSITIVE (NET) 25 3 48 23 9 28 42
      Excellent 4 * 7 2 1 4 6
      Pretty good 22 3 40 21 8 24 36
NEGATIVE (NET) 75 97 52 77 91 72 58
      Only fair 34 19 41 36 18 39 44
      Poor 41 77 11 41 73 33 14

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; * indicates less than .05%

TABLE 3
FINANCIAL SECURITY
“Compared to last year, how secure do you feel about your financial situation?”

Base: All adults

Total Political Affiliation Generation
Rep. Dem. Ind. Echo Boomers

(18-34)

Gen. X

(35-46)

Baby Boomers

(47-65)

Matures

(66+)

% % % % % % % %
MORE SECURE (NET) 14 7 20 14 17 15 15 8
   Much more secure 3 1 5 2 4 2 2 2
   Somewhat more secure 12 7 16 12 13 13 12 6
Same as last year 41 35 49 39 41 45 39 39
LESS SECURE (NET) 41 55 28 43 34 37 45 52
   Somewhat less secure 21 28 16 21 19 20 21 28
   Much less secure 20 27 12 23 15 17 25 25
Not sure 3 3 2 3 8 2 1 *

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

Note: * indicates less than 0.5%


TABLE 4
FINANCIAL SECURITY – TREND
“Compared to last year, how secure do you feel about your financial situation?”

Base: All adults

2008 2009 2010 2011
% % % %
MORE SECURE (NET) 21 12 19 14
   Much more secure 4 3 5 3
   Somewhat more secure 17 9 14 12
Same as last year 34 30 36 41
LESS SECURE (NET) 38 56 42 41
   Somewhat less secure 24 33 23 21
   Much less secure 14 23 20 20
Not sure 7 3 2 3

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

TABLE 5
PERSONAL FINANCIAL EXPECTATIONS FOR THE NEXT 6 MONTHS – TREND
“Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?”

Base: All adults

2008 2009
Feb Mar June Nov Jan Mar April May June Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
% % % % % % % % % % % % % %
BETTER (NET) 39 33 40 24 20 20 23 25 21 24 23 23 18 19
Will remain the same 28 28 25 43 48 46 46 45 45 48 48 45 47 48
WORSE (NET) 34 39 36 33 32 35 31 30 33 28 29 31 35 33

2010 2011
Jan Mar April May June Aug Sept Oct Jan Dec
% % % % % % % % % %
BETTER (NET) 21 21 22 25 21 22 22 22 27 19
Will remain the same 49 47 50 47 52 52 50 49 46 53
WORSE (NET) 30 32 29 28 27 26 28 29 27 28

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 6
PERSONAL FINANCIAL EXPECTATIONS FOR THE NEXT 6 MONTHS – BY GENERATION AND POLITICAL PARTY
“Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?”

Base: All adults

Total Generation Political Party
Echo

Boomers

(18-34)

Gen X

(35-46)

Baby

Boomers

(47-65)

Matures

(66+)

Rep. Dem. Ind.
% % % % % % % %
BETTER (NET) 19 21 20 19 12 9 30 17
  Will be much better 4 4 6 3 2 1 5 4
  Will be somewhat better 15 17 15 16 10 8 24 13
Will remain the same 53 60 56 46 50 55 53 50
WORSE (NET) 28 18 24 35 37 36 17 33
  Will be somewhat worse 20 13 16 23 29 28 11 23
  Will be much worse 8 5 7 11 8 8 6 10

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

Methodology
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 5 and 12, 2011 among 2,237 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

The Harris Poll® #1, January 4, 2012
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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