Economic Attitudes Down From Last Month

NEW YORK , N.Y. – March 27, 2013 – Almost one month into sequester and the stock market continues to hit new highs. Does this mean the American public hears the stories about cancelled White House tours and shuttered air traffic control towers and doesn’t believe anything worse will be coming? In looking at overall attitudes on some general economic indicators, U.S. adults do seem a little more negative when compared to last month. And, in looking at how the country overall is going, just one-third (34%) say the country is going in the right direction, while two-thirds (66%) believe it is heading off on the wrong track.

Looking ahead, three in ten Americans (30%) expect the economy to be better in the coming year, 37% expect it to stay the same and one-third (33%) expect it to get worse. Last month, 32% said the economy would be better, 40% said it would stay the same and 28% said it would get worse.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,276 adults surveyed online between March 13 and 18, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

Looking at household financial conditions, while about half of Americans (49%) say their financial conditions will stay the same over the next six months, one in five (21%) say it will get better and three in ten (30%) believe it will get worse. In February, just about one-quarter each thought their household’s financial condition would get better (23%) and get worse (27%); half (50%) believed it would remain the same.

Politics and the Economy

Looking at President Obama and his overall handling of the economy, one-third of U.S. adults (33%) give him positive ratings while 67% give him negative ratings. Last month, 36% gave the President positive ratings on his handling of the economy while 64% gave him negative ratings. Looking at this by political party, it’s not surprising that over nine in ten Republicans (93%) give President Obama negative marks on his handling of the economy, but so do seven in ten Independents (71%) and over one-third of Democrats (36%).

Most Important Issue

As the economy continues to sputter along, it’s not surprising that economic concerns are four of the top five issues that Americans identify as the two most important items for the government to address, and part of the fifth as well. Over one-quarter of U.S. adults believe the general economy should be addressed (27%) and employment and the job issue (26%). Just under one-quarter (23%) identify healthcare (not Medicare), while one in five (20%) specify the budget and spending issues and 16% point to the national debt.

So What?

Yes, the stock market is at all time highs and the housing market, at least in many parts of the country, is picking up steam. But, Americans still seem to have a great deal of uncertainty about the overall economic conditions of the country. Perhaps if they see the rally has legs this time, the sense of unease will abate and Americans will begin spending and not worrying as much with regard to the economy. But looking at these numbers, that seems to be a ways off at this point, and Americans’ sense of uncertainty is still there.

 

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

Mar

Apr

May

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

47

49

46

43

39

40

34

36

31

32

33

36

Excellent

13

13

10

3

9

7

6

6

5

5

6

6

Pretty good

34

36

36

34

31

33

27

30

25

27

27

30

NEGATIVE (NET)

53

51

54

57

61

60

66

64

69

68

67

64

Only fair

30

27

30

27

25

27

30

30

31

30

31

29

Poor

23

24

24

30

36

33

37

34

39

37

36

34

2010

2011

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

May

June

July

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

32

32

29

27

31

30

33

33

33

32

27

26

Excellent

5

6

5

5

5

5

7

9

5

7

5

3

Pretty good

27

26

24

22

26

25

26

24

28

26

22

23

NEGATIVE (NET)

68

68

71

73

69

70

67

62

67

68

73

74

Only fair

32

29

31

33

30

34

30

22

29

28

30

33

Poor

37

39

40

39

39

36

37

39

38

40

43

41

2011

2012

2013

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

March

Feb

March

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

21

23

22

25

25

32

32

36

33

Excellent

2

3

3

4

2

3

5

4

6

Pretty good

18

20

20

22

22

29

27

32

27

NEGATIVE (NET)

79

77

78

75

75

68

68

64

67

Only fair

33

36

32

34

34

30

29

26

26

Poor

46

41

46

41

41

38

39

38

41

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; In February 2012 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)

33

7

64

29

10

33

63

Excellent

6

 

14

3

2

4

17

Pretty good

27

7

50

26

8

29

47

NEGATIVE (NET)

67

93

36

71

90

67

37

Only fair

26

21

27

28

17

32

26

Poor

41

72

9

43

73

35

11

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

 

TABLE 3

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ECONOMY IN 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

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

39

38

46

40

34

38

30

29

28

30

34

29

Stay the same

35

35

32

36

37

34

42

39

40

40

41

45

Get worse

26

27

22

24

29

28

28

32

32

30

25

26

2011

2012

2013

Feb

June

July

Sept.

Oct.

Dec.

Feb.

Feb.

March

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

34

26

23

21

20

23

36

32

30

Stay the same

42

41

41

45

46

47

40

40

37

Get worse

25

33

37

34

34

29

24

28

33

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


TABLE 4

EXPECTATIONS FOR HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL CONDITION IN NEXT SIX MONTHS

Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?

Base: All adults

2013

Feb.

March

%

%

BETTER (NET)

23

21

Much better

3

3

Somewhat better

20

17

Will remain the same

50

49

WORSE (NET)

27

30

Somewhat worse

20

21

Much worse

7

9

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;

 


TABLE 5

RIGHT DIRECTION OR WRONG TRACK

Generally speaking, would you say things in the country are going in the right direction or have they pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?

Base: All adults

 

TREND

Right Direction

Wrong Track

%

%

2013

March

34

66

2012

March

34

66

 

January

27

73

2011

August

16

84

 

May

39

61

2010

December

29

71

 

April

39

61

2009

August

46

54

 

January

19

72

2008

October

11

83

 

February

23

69

2007

December

18

74

 

February

29

62

2006

May

24

69

 

February

32

59

2005

November

27

68

 

January

46

48

2004

September

38

57

 

June

35

59

2003

December

35

57

 

June

44

51

2002

December

36

57

 

June

46

48

2001

December

65

32

 

June

43

52

2000

October

50

41

 

June

40

51

1999

June

37

55

 

March

47

45

1998

December

43

51

 

June

48

44

1997

December

39

56

April

36

55

1996

December

38

50

June

29

64

1995

December

26

62

June

24

65

1994

December

29

63

June

28

65

1993

June

21

70

 

March

39

50

1992

June

12

81

 

January

20

75

1991

December

17

75

 

January

58

32

 

 


TABLE 7

MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE

What do you think are the two most important issues for the government to address?

Spontaneous, unprompted replies

Base: All adults

’97

’98

’99

’00

’01

’02

’03

’04

’05

’06

07

08

09

10

’11

12

12

13

May

Jan

Feb

Aug

Dec

Dec

June

Oct

Aug

June

Oct

Oct

Mar

Jan

May

Jan

Mar

Mar

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

The economy (non-specific)

8

9

7

5

32

34

25

28

19

14

13

64

50

32

29

31

30

27

Employment/jobs

5

3

4

4

7

8

8

10

3

7

5

5

21

31

33

42

36

26

Healthcare (not Medicare)

10

11

12

15

5

10

14

18

11

12

25

22

25

45

18

21

21

23

Budget/Government spending

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

5

6

2

6

7

9

9

7

20

Budget deficit/National debt

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

3

X

17

12

11

16

Immigration

2

1

 

1

1

1

2

2

3

20

12

3

4

5

10

6

5

9

Taxes

14

16

12

13

6

5

11

8

5

4

3

6

4

4

4

10

7

9

Education

15

14

21

25

12

11

13

7

8

7

6

6

5

5

7

8

7

6

Gun laws/control

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

4

Wars/Armed conflicts

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

6

2

4

3

Social security

6

6

24

16

3

2

4

4

10

5

3

3

1

1

3

3

3

3

Environment

3

2

3

3

1

3

2

1

3

3

3

2

3

3

2

3

2

3

(Programs for) the poor/ poverty

3

2

2

3

1

2

3

 

4

4

4

 

1

2

2

2

1

2

Crime/violence

19

13

8

10

1

2

3

1

3

2

2

1

 

1

1

X

1

2

Foreign policy (non-specific)

3

5

4

3

2

4

2

3

2

2

4

2

3

2

1

3

2

2

Bipartisanship

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

1

2

Gas and oil prices

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

10

8

2

1

1

 

12

2

12

2

National security

X

X

2

2

6

3

6

5

2

2

2

5

2

4

1

2

1

2

Business accountability/bailouts

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

1

 

2

Energy

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

4

4

1

4

3

1

2

1

3

1

Downsizing government

X

X

X

1

 

X

X

1

 

1

1

 

1

2

1

4

2

1

Human/civil/women’s rights

2

1

 

1

1

1

 

1

1

1

2

 

 

1

1

2

2

1

Military/defense

2

2

2

4

4

1

5

3

1

4

2

2

2

1

1

2

2

1

Terrorism

X

X

X

X

22

17

11

7

7

4

4

3

4

6

4

2

1

1

Ethics in government

 

 

 

 

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

 

1

1

1

Sequester

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

Medicare

4

5

5

6

1

1

4

3

2

1

3

2

 

 

2

1

1

1

Welfare

14

8

4

2

1

1

3

 

3

1

2

 

 

 

 

1

1

1

Same sex rights

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

2

 

 

1

1

 

 

1

1

Income gap/Wealth distribution/Middle class

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

X

 

1

Abortion

2

2

2

6

1

1

1

4

2

1

2

1

1

1

 

1

 

1

Obama/president

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

 

 

1

1

1

1

1

Infrastructure

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

 

 

1

Housing

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

 

 

1

2

2

6

1

1

2

2

1

Dependency on foreign oil

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

2

 

Homeland/domestic security/public safety

X

X

X

X

8

9

3

6

2

2

2

1

2

1

1

1

1

X

Inflation

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

2

3

 

1

 

1

1

1

 

Afghanistan

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

1

 

Religion (decline of)

 

1

 

1

2

1

1

1

 

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Homelessness

4

4

3

3

2

2

1

 

1

1

3

 

 

1

 

1

 

 

Iraq

 

 

1

X

X

11

3

9

6

8

14

7

2

2

 

 

 

 

Programs for the elderly (not Medicare/Social Security)

1

1

1

2

1

1

3

 

 

 

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The) war

X

X

X

X

12

18

8

35

41

27

24

14

9

2

 

 

X

 

Overspending/wasting money

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

2

X

X

X

Other

8

19

2

19

3

8

8

8

1

6

5

15

5

1

3

7

8

8

Not sure/refused/no issue

9

12

16

18

11

10

12

9

8

6

8

4

4

2

4

3

2

2

= Less than 0.5%, X = Not mentioned as specific issue

Note: Prior to March, 2009, this question was asked via telephone


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Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 13 and 18, 2013 among 2,276 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.

J42775

Q1205, 1208, 705, 713, 715

The Harris Poll® #16, March 27, 2013

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

 

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