October 18th, 2007
11:30 AM ET
4 years ago

Poll: Nearly half think U.S. in recession

The New York Stock Exchange

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly half of Americans feel the U.S. economy is in a recession, marked by a significant decline in economic activity, according to a survey released Thursday.

The poll by the CNN-Opinion Research Corporation found that while 46 percent of Americans hold that belief, 51 percent don't.

Black citizens were more pessimistic than whites, findings show.

Sixty-nine percent of black Americans feel the United States is in a recession, while only 42 percent of white Americans feel the same way.

The National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP (Gross Domestic Product), real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale-retail sales."

The GDP measures the economy's output. It represents the total market value of all goods and services produced in the United States during a specified period.

According to the bureau, "a recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity, and ends as the economy reaches its trough. Between trough and peak, the economy is in an expansion. Expansion is the normal state of the economy; most recessions are brief and they have been rare in recent decades."

The recession findings may be having an impact on President Bush's approval rating.

The CNN-ORC poll finds Mr. Bush's approval rating remains steady at 36 percent, but his approval rating among black Americans is just 15 percent.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland says "a majority of whites also disapprove of Bush, although four in 10 have a favorable view of his administration. The president's approval rating has been stuck at 36 percent since late summer."

The sampling error for the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points for all but the black vs. white breakdowns, which have a sampling error of 5.5 percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser


Filed under: Economy • President Bush
soundoff (402 Responses)
  1. TK, Houston, TX

    This is poor journalism, but coming from a "Deputy Political Director" I would not expect good journalism.

    We are not in a recession, based on the definition.

    Globally (which is not how we define recession, but perhaps we should) we are not keeping up our normal pace.

    October 18, 2007 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. LRM , La Grange Park, Ill.

    How about reporting JUST ONCE all the good things that are going on in this Nation! I know the press has to scare people into buying/watching their editorials, but JUST ONCE!
    It is easy to understand that a great number of people believe we are in a recession/slowdown with the CONSTANT perception of bad news.

    October 18, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. Mia

    All I can say is, there are a lot of ignorant people on this blog. People measure the economy on their personal situation. Congress has a low rating not because Democrats are in power, but because the Republicans are blocking all meaningful legislation, and nothing is getting done. The only people supporting Bush are the Republicans themselves. Liberal bias, my but. I'm done speaking now. You can go stick your head back in the sand.

    October 18, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. RV Columbia SC

    Let's see. Over 50% of Americans believe we are not in a recession. Isn't that the correct headline? Do you always see the glass as half-empty. I have zero debt and have worked for 40 years. If you aren't working, go get a job, then you won't be home to answer these surveys.

    October 18, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. Wellington, Boulder, CO

    This is a reason why everyone should vote Democrat. If we don't the establishment media will try to make us feel depressed and miserable about the state of the country and especially the economy until the next election. If we do and put a Democrat in the White House, everything will be good overnight.

    October 18, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  6. Mia

    Why do the bloggers here who complain about CNN being liberal even read this website?

    October 18, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. naman, Austin, Texas

    Remember, this is from a public for whom the majority can't find Iraq on a world map.

    October 18, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. Jason A.

    I don't know why people keep pointing out that we are NOT in recession or that CNN doesn't bother to report the facts.

    CNN will just ignore these comments and keep right on doing it. I'd love CNN to "investigate" this matter, but media groups seem to think they are above the scrutiny they subject others to.

    So CNN editors, please feel free to respond with an explanation if you are truly journalists. Personally, I think "mouthpiece" is a more apt description.

    October 18, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Ryan, New York, NY

    Main stream media portrays the economy as being bad because if they didnt, Hillary or Obama wont win the election. How else can you explain that nearly half the people in the US think we're in a recession when we're not even CLOSE?

    Posted By Bob : October 18, 2007 10:36 am

    First, after the last Republican president, I don't think that Americans are going to reward the party again this time around. Also, I don't think that the economy is going to be the most pivotal issue for those voting for Democrats, so no, I don't think that's the reason that this story is being reported.

    It could be that most of these people are having a harder time paying bills. I expect that these people define recession as having to cut other expenses to pay for gas and their mortgages (if they haven't foreclosed already).

    All of these problems, to me, are not the definition of a recession, though I do think we're headed that way soon. It's the simple business cycle, in addition to culmination of some of the problems we're experiencing. That said, these 46% are going to be severely hurting later if they think we're in a recession now.

    October 18, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. Dante, Pittsburgh, PA

    Congratulations to the drive-by media. You have proven that you can fool half of the people all of the time. You have also proven that Democrats are more easily duped or are dumber than Republicans. And it seems your propaganda has worked best on the black community. Kudos, yet another victorious battle in your War on Truth.

    October 18, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Brian, Everett Washington

    According to the bureau, "a recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity, and ends as the economy reaches its trough. This definition is only used when a Republican is President.

    Using the above definition, the last recession began in the middle of the second Clinton/Gore term.

    The press at the time said that a reduction in growth was not a recession until growth was less than 0% ie negative. That is the definition if a Democrat is President. Of course the media has no bias.

    October 18, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. Liberty, Monroe, GA

    CNN,
    Why don't you report on the Democratic Congress oh so low approval ratings? Huh? You'd prefer to keep America ignorant on that one don't you? Oh how pro-democratic and socialist you are inside and behind the scenes. I speak from first hand knowledge.

    October 18, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. Deryl Sabin, Lakewood, CO

    Incredible. These are the kind of irresponsible reports that sway the ignorant, gullible, uninformed and naive masses who make up the voting public. Most of them will never know the facts of the matter. CNN should be ashamed.

    October 18, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  14. SoonerJJ, Norman OK

    Here's a great drive by report filling up space that is, assuming everyone surveyed had enough knowledge to understand what a recession actually is, which I doubt.

    October 18, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  15. Ted Bell

    Let's see. I haven't even had a cost of living pay increase in 3 years, our budget has been cut by over 50% since 2003, and health care costs are putting my family into bankruptcy. Either I'm having a bad dream or all the previous messages about the US not being in a recession are being posted by mortgage brokers.

    October 18, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. GS, Charlotte, N.C.

    Has nothing to do with the media. Right wingers, please start to think for yourself instead of blindly believing what the right wing media tells you. The reason such a large percentage of Americans think the nation is in a recession is because a large percentage of Americans have not benefitted from the current economic expansion. To explain, if we are all sitting in one room we all have an average income. If I hit the lottery the average income in this room increases substantially but you have no more money, I have it all.

    October 18, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. James, Phoenix AZ

    CNN previously used 1 poll (1212 people) to create 4 articles on their blog:

    1. Thompson fading, Hillary Rising
    2. Hillary Trouncing Obama
    3. American people support illegal aliens
    4. American people want SCHIP

    These 1212 people polled were obviously Pro-Hillary, Pro-Illegal Alien, Pro-Free Healthcare. To suggest this "sample" could somehow represent the American people on ALL the topics is just wrong. Adding to the questionability to the poll – it had a margin of error of 6.5 points.

    NOW – we here of another poll that the American people THINK were in a recession?

    CNN – you didn't cite the date and size of your sample. IS this just more headlines your TRYING to create from the same flawed poll you did previously???

    October 18, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. MH, Laurel MD

    Those numbers at shadow stats look so wrong...

    October 18, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. Bob Martin

    Gee – I like the headline "NEARLY Half Think US In Recession"....but they show 51 percent don't believe that and only 46% do....then they define a "recession" but fail to give the FACTUAL DATA to show that we are not even close to a recession....can we say PARTISAN?

    Bob Martin
    Stoughton Wisconsin

    October 18, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. Chicago, IL

    ironic how this article doesn't state IF we are in a recession or not! I guess CNN can not bring themselves to acknowledge that we are NOT in a recession. Maybe they should tell the uninformed the truth instead of slanting this article about people's ignorance and making it sound true.

    October 18, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. Don, DC

    CNN's reporting of people's misunderstandings unfortunately can translate into future reality- if almost 50% think we're in recession, then confirm here that many others also think so, and they cut back on spending or show up in CNN's next "Consumer Sentiment Plummets" article, CNN can take a bow for some of the very drop in economic growth it helped imagine.

    October 18, 2007 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Kelly

    The denial in these posts is simply dumbfounding. Housing starts and prices are tumbling throughout the nation, the dollar is falling, oil prices are rising, bankruptcies are at an all-time high, hundreds of thousands can't pay their subprime mortgages and are losing their homes, on and on and on.

    This so-called expansion of the past 5 years was almost totally propped up by the subprime mess, with the tacit approval of Bush and the Republican majority in Congress, and it will now come back to bite them, and everyone else in the butt.

    To say the media is to blame is to blame is laughable.

    October 18, 2007 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. TNT, Orlando, FL

    Believe non-believers are in for a shock as the economy continues to unravel. Wait until the seasonal retail sales reports begin coming in. This credit crisis, housing collapse are much broader than many realize, yet! This is not just a subprime problem. Think about home many jobs are connected to housing and auto industries. Today's news shows big increase in unemployment filings.

    October 18, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. Colony 14 author, Don F, Mount Prospect, Illinois

    As many of the posters have noted, we are NOT in a recession. In fact, the economy has been doing quite well for a long time. Shamefully, the article lists no readily available statistics to inform readers of low unemployment levels, low inflation, high stock market, rising GDP, etc. How convenient, as an election approaches, to do nothing to dispel obvious misbeliefs held by the electorate.

    You can also count on the media to produce stories about how difficult it is for senior citizens "living on fixed incomes" to survive with an average increase of only $24 in their Social Securiy checks, without realizing that the fact of the increase itself totally negates the use of the term "fixed incomes!"

    Hey, if you want to see a recession, wait until Hillary gets together with Reid and Pelosi to raise taxes, increase federal handout spending, and impose more efficiency-busting bureaucratic regulations. THAT will be the mother of all recessions!

    October 18, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  25. Mark Colbert

    I live in Fort Myers Florida I am a Conservative and I don't need the media to tell me we ARE in a Recession. I own retail stores on no one is currently doing good in any retail business in this area.

    October 18, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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