Democrats and Republicans Sharply Divided on 2014 Economic Prospects

NEW YORK , N.Y. – January 6, 2014 – As one year draws to a close and another begins anew, it’s time for Americans to plan out the year to come. What financial resolutions might they be making? And what sort of economic changes do they expect 2014 to bring for the nation as a whole? A recent Harris Poll finds the pessimistic outlook that the economy will get worse (32%) slightly overshadowing the belief that it will improve (27%), though the most prevalent opinion is that the economy will stay the same (42%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,311 U.S. adults surveyed online between December 11 and 17, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

It is noteworthy that Americans are more likely than last year to believe the economy will stay the same (up 11 percentage points from December 2012), while drops are apparent both for the belief that the economy will improve (down 6 points) and that it will get worse (down 4 points).

  • Americans show deep divisions on this issue by political party, with Democrats nearly four times as likely as Republicans to believe that the economy will improve (46% Democrats, 12% Republicans) and the inverse true for the perception that it will get worse (47% Republicans, 13% Democrats). Both parties, as well as Independents, are equally likely to ascribe to the belief that it will stay the same (41% each).

Reflecting on 2013; Planning for 2014

Americans were asked about their financial plans for the year ahead, as well as what they planned on doing in 2013 – and whether or not they followed through on such plans.

Americans report a solid follow-through ratio for 2013 financial plans. Among those who indicated they had planned on taking a series of financially responsible actions in 2013, those who did follow through on such plans consistently outpaced those who did not. 2013 plans showing the best follow-through rates include:

  • Cut back on my household spending (49% planned and followed through vs. 15% planned but did not)
  • Pay down my level of debt (41% and 15%, respectively)
  • Undertake home improvements that increase the value of my home (22% and 10%, respectively) and
  • Get rid of one of my credit cards (19% and 8%, respectively).

Turning to the year ahead, nearly half of Americans (45%) say they expect to cut back on household spending in 2014, while four in ten each plan on paying down their level of debt and saving more (40% each). Nearly one-fourth (23%) plan on saving more for retirement and 15% each plan on getting rid of one or more credit cards and undertaking home improvements that increase the value of their home.

Financial plans for the coming year are similar to those seen a year ago, though there has been slight growth in planned saving, with stated intentions to save more in general and save more for retirement both up three percentage points.

Looking further back, Americans are considerably less likely than five years ago (the first year this question was asked) to say they plan to cut back on spending in the year ahead (down 10 points) and to get rid of one or more credit cards (down 9 percentage points).

Renewed dedication of self delusion?

Americans who tried and failed to make financial changes in 2013 appear to be doubling down, so to speak, with those who intended a change in 2013 but didn’t follow through consistently more likely than the general population to say they expect to make such a change in 2014. Top examples include:

  • Cut back on my household spending (45% of Americans plan on doing so overall; 61% of those who intended to do so in 2013 but didn’t follow through intend to do so)
  • Pay down my level of debt (40% and 68%, respectively)
  • Save more in the year ahead (40%, and 51%, respectively)
  • Save more for retirement (23% and 36%, respectively)
  • Get rid of one or more credit cards (15% and 53%, respectively) and
  • Undertake home improvements that increase the value of my home (15% and 39%, respectively).

 

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TABLE 1a

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ECONOMY IN THE COMING YEAR – TREND

In the coming year, do you expect the economy toâ€_?

Base: U.S. adults

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

April

May

Aug

Sept

Oct

May

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Dec

Dec

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

39

38

46

40

34

38

30

29

28

30

34

29

23

33

27

Stay the same

35

35

32

36

37

34

42

39

40

40

41

45

47

31

42

Get worse

26

27

22

24

29

28

28

32

32

30

25

26

29

36

32

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

 

TABLE 1b

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ECONOMY IN THE COMING YEAR

By Generation, Gender & Political Party

In the coming year, do you expect the economy toâ€_?

Base: All adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Political Party

Echo Boomers (18-36)

Gen. Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

Republican

Democrat

Independent

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

27

23

27

29

27

30

24

12

46

21

Stay the same

42

49

45

36

33

39

44

41

41

41

Get worse

32

28

28

34

40

31

33

47

13

38

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

 

TABLE 2

ACTIONS PLANNED/TAKEN THIS YEAR

And, thinking about the past year, please select the statement which best describes how you approached these in regards to your finances for 2013.

Base: All U.S. Adults

Planned on doing in 2013 and did follow through

Planned on doing in 2013 but did not follow through

Had no plans to do so / NA

2013

2013

2013

%

%

%

Cut back on my household spending

49

15

36

Pay down my level of debt

41

15

44

Save more in the year ahead

35

29

36

Save more for retirement

24

19

56

Undertake home improvements that increase the value of my home

22

10

68

Get rid of one or more of my credit cards

19

8

73

Invest in less risky investments

11

4

85

Refinance my mortgage

7

4

89

Take out a home equity line of credit

4

2

95

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

 

TABLE 3a

2014 FINANCIAL EXPECTATIONS – vs. Previous Years

Which of the following do you expect to do in 2014 in regards to your finances?

Base: All U.S. adults

2008

2010

2011

2012

2013

%

%

%

%

%

Cut back on my household spending

55

49

45

45

45

Pay down my level of debt

45

41

39

40

40

Save more in the year ahead

42

40

36

37

40

Save more for retirement

21

22

16

20

23

Get rid of one or more credit cards

24

22

16

17

15

Undertake home improvements that increase the value of my home

14

13

11

14

15

Invest in less risky investments

9

8

5

8

5

Refinance my mortgage

5

6

5

5

4

Take out a home equity line of credit

2

2

1

1

2

Other

6

6

5

5

6

I don’t expect to do anything different financially in 2014

16

18

23

23

20

Note: Multiple response question; In 2008 this question asked about financial activity for 2009, in 2010 it was asked about 2011, in 2011 it was asked about 2012, in 2012 it was asked about 2013, and in 2013 It was asked about 2014.

 

TABLE 3b

2014 FINANCIAL EXPECTATIONS – By Generation & Children in HH

Which of the following do you expect to do in 2014 in regards to your finances?

Base: All adults

Total

Intended same in 2013 but didn’t follow through

Generation

Metro Status

Echo Boomers (18-36)

Gen. X (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Urban

Suburban

Rural

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Cut back on my household spending

45

61

47

42

48

35

39

45

51

Pay down my level of debt

40

68

43

41

43

23

43

39

40

Save more in the year ahead

40

51

55

38

36

21

44

41

34

Save more for retirement

23

36

26

30

23

2

27

24

16

Get rid of one or more credit cards

15

53

16

16

15

11

13

17

14

Undertake home improvements that increase the value of my home

15

39

17

12

16

12

12

17

14

Invest in less risky investments

5

24^

5

2

6

6

3

6

3

Refinance my mortgage

4

33^

5

5

3

1

3

5

2

Take out a home equity line of credit

2

NA

4

3

1

1

3

2

2

Other

6

NA

9

7

4

3

6

5

8

I don’t expect to do anything different financially in 2014

20

NA

14

20

20

38

22

19

21

Note: Multiple response question; In 2008 this question asked about financial activity for 2009, in 2010 it was asked about 2011, in 2011 it was asked about 2012, in 2012 it was asked about 2013, and in 2013 It was asked about 2014.

^Low base size (<100); results should be treated as directional, or qualitative, in nature


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 11 and 17, 2013 among 2,311 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.

The Harris Poll® #1, January 6, 2014

By Larry Shannon Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive

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