Americans Say Political Parties’ Policies Not Likely to Solve Economic Woes

NEW YORK, N.Y. – August 30, 2010 – As summer draws to a close, many Americans find that the economic situation they started the summer with is still the same. Their attitude toward the economy, as well as the President’s handling of it, reflects the lack of change they are experiencing. Two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) give President Obama negative ratings on the job he is doing on handling the economy while one-third (32%) give him positive ratings. These numbers are the same as they were in June.

Democrats stand by their president on this issue. Three in five Democrats (60%) give President Obama positive ratings on the economy while three-quarters of Independents (74%) and more than nine in ten Republicans (94%) give him negative marks.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,775 adults surveyed online between August 9 and 16, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

When it comes to the two political parties, Americans do not believe they are likely to have what it takes to solve the U.S.’s economic issues. Over one-third of U.S. adults say the Republican Party’s policies (37%) would be likely to solve these issues, while almost the same number (36%) say the Democratic Party’s policies are likely to do so. But over two in five say neither the Republicans’ policies (44%) nor the Democrats’ policies (46%) are likely to solve these economic woes. The Tea Party is also talking about the economy, but they are not seen as having the ideas either. Three in ten (29%) say their policies are likely to solve the economic problems, 44% say they are not likely to do so and over one-quarter of Americans (27%) are not at all sure if the Tea Party’s policies will solve the U.S.’s economic woes.

Looking ahead

People are divided as to what the upcoming year will bring economically. Two in five U.S. adults (39%) say the economy will stay the same in the coming year while one-third (32%) say it will get worse and three in ten (29%) believe it will improve. Americans are a little more pessimistic now than they were in June when 30% believed things would improve, 42% thought they would stay the same and 28% said the economy would get worse in the coming year.

Bringing it closer to home, over half of Americans (52%) say they expect their household’s financial condition to remain the same in the next six months while just over one-quarter (26%) say it will get worse and just under one-quarter (22%) believe it will get better. These feelings are almost unchanged from June when 52% believed their household’s financial condition would remain the same over six months, 21% felt it would get better and 27% thought their household’s financial condition would get worse.

While some economists talk about a double dip recession and others say the economic crisis is over, the American public is not of one mind on this issue. In thinking about the current economic crisis, one-third (34%) believe the worst is still to come, one-third (33%) say the worst is over and one-third (32%) are not at all sure. There is a partisan split on this, too. Half of Republicans (50%) believe the worst is still to come while half of Democrats (49%) say the worst is over.

So What?

Presidents’ political legacies often live and die with the economy. When the economy is going well, even if the president has other problems, Americans tend to be lenient. But, when it is not going well, a president’s successes often fall on deaf ears, as the electorate looks to find a scapegoat for their economic woes. For this president, the economy may be something he inherited, but more than 18 months into his first term, it is now something that is his.

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

2010

March

April

May

June

Aug

Sept

Nov

Dec

Jan

March

April

May

June

Aug

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

47

49

46

43

39

40

34

36

31

32

33

36

32

32

Excellent

13

13

10

3

9

7

6

6

5

5

6

6

5

6

Pretty good

34

36

36

34

31

33

27

30

25

27

27

30

27

26

NEGATIVE (NET)

53

51

54

57

61

60

66

64

69

68

67

64

68

68

Only fair

30

27

30

27

25

27

30

30

31

30

31

29

32

29

Poor

23

24

24

30

36

33

37

34

39

37

36

34

37

39

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

TABLE 2

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – BY GENERATION AND 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

Generation

Political Party

Echo

Boomers

(18-33)

Gen X

(34-45)

Baby

Boomers

(46-64)

Matures

(65+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

32

32

32

34

26

6

60

26

Excellent

6

7

6

6

4

1

14

3

Pretty good

26

24

25

28

22

5

46

23

NEGATIVE (NET)

68

68

68

66

74

94

40

74

Only fair

29

35

29

28

22

22

29

34

Poor

39

33

40

38

52

72

11

40

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

TABLE 3

ECONOMIC POLICIES

How likely do you think it is that the following groups’ policies would solve the U.S.’s economic issues?

Base: All adults

Likely (NET)

Extremely likely

Somewhat likely

Not likely (NET)

Not very likely

Not at all likely

Not at all sure

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Republican Party

37

10

27

44

20

24

19

Democratic Party

36

11

25

46

16

30

18

Tea Party

29

11

18

44

14

30

27

TABLE 4

ECONOMIC EXPECTATIONS FOR THE COMING YEAR – TREND

In the coming year, do you expect the economy to…?

Base: All adults

2009

2010

April

May

Aug

Sept

Oct

May

June

Aug

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

39

38

46

40

34

38

30

29

Stay the same

35

35

32

36

37

34

42

39

Get worse

26

27

22

24

29

28

28

32

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

TABLE 5

ECONOMIC 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

Jan

Mar

April

May

June

Aug

%

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

21

21

22

25

21

22

Will remain the same

49

47

50

47

52

52

WORSE (NET)

30

32

29

28

27

26

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

TABLE 6

ECONOMIC 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

(18-33)

Gen X

(34-45)

Baby

Boomers

(46-64)

Matures

(65+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

22

30

23

23

9

14

33

19

Will be much better

4

8

3

4

1

1

8

3

Will be somewhat better

18

22

20

18

8

12

25

16

Will remain the same

52

52

51

50

55

53

50

52

WORSE (NET)

26

18

26

27

37

33

17

29

Will be somewhat worse

20

14

19

20

30

26

13

22

Will be much worse

6

4

6

7

7

8

4

6

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

TABLE 7

DESCRIBING THE CRISIS

In thinking about the current economic crisis, which statement is closer to your view?

Base: All adults

Total

Political Party

Tea Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Supporter

Member

%

%

%

%

%

%

The worst is still to come

34

50

17

36

53

64

The worst is over

33

20

49

32

20

11

Not at all sure

32

29

34

33

26

25

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 9 to 16, 2010 among 2,775 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.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J38557

Q705, 710, 715, 720, 740

The Harris Poll ® #102, August 30, 2010

By Regina A. Corso, Director The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

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