Two in Five Americans Feel Less Secure Financially Compared to Last Year

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – January 4, 2012 – 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.

    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.

    J40990

    Q705, 710, 713

     

     

    The Harris Poll ® #1, January 4, 2012

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

    About Harris Interactive

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