CNN Poll: Economic pessimism skyrockets
August 8th, 2011
11:57 AM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Economic pessimism skyrockets

Washington (CNN) - Americans have a bad case of the economic jitters, as recent drops in the stock market have been accompanied by a sharp rise in the public's economic pessimism, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that the public is split on last week's agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling, with more than six in ten saying the deal benefits the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class.

According to the poll, 60 percent now say that the economy is still in a downturn and getting worse. That's up 24 points from April, when a plurality believed that things had stabilized.

"Since the question was first asked in the spring of 2009, the number of Americans who said the economy was in a downturn had never been higher than 40 percent," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "The jump in economic pessimism is across the board - a majority of every major demographic and political subgroup thinks the economy is in a downturn and getting worse."

Three-quarters of people questioned now say that things are going badly in the country today, a 15-point increase since May. Just 24 percent say things are going well, the lowest figure since April of 2009.

There are many reasons for the steep increase in economic pessimism, but the stock market is clearly weighing on the minds of many Americans. More than half of people questioned say they have money invested in stocks, either directly or through 401k plans, IRAs and the like. And most say that the recent fall of the stock market affected their family's financial position, 16 percent in a major way and another 39 percent in a minor way.

"To put those numbers in perspective, in October of 1987, when the stock market had its biggest one-day loss in history as measured by percent decline, only 4 percent said they were affected in a major way and only 23 percent were affected in a minor way," adds Holland.

But it's more than Wall Street - six in ten say their confidence in the American economy was unaffected by the recent drop in the stock market, indicating that the public had already begun to lose confidence before the markets tanked.

Another likely concern is last week's debt ceiling agreement. The public is divided on that agreement - 48 percent approve and 50 percent disapprove - which may represent a slight increase in support compared to last week, but is far from a ringing endorsement. Roughly half say the government spending cuts in that bill did not go far enough, and six in ten say the bill benefits the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class. That's a further indication that there were no winners in last weeks' debt ceiling agreement, including the U.S. economy.

"Democrats dislike the agreement because they think it benefits the rich. Republicans dislike the agreement because they think the spending cuts don't go far enough. Independents dislike the bill for both reasons - a majority of them see it as unbalanced, and also believe that the spending cuts should have gone further," Holland said.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International on August 5-7, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey was conducted both before and after Friday night's downgrading of the country's credit rating by Standard and Poors. The poll's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Debt • Deficit • Economy
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. diridi

    raise taxes on wealthy and corp....please...please...need revenue...now...

    August 8, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. dan in Alquerque

    Sounds like Joe McCarthy lives again!! These extremist "socialist" communist" comments, plus extremism from the far left illustrate the point: "We have seen the enemy and it is US!" Locked-in lack of even considering compromise is shooting ourselves in the foot. If this new committee doesn't do a long-term serious report on the need for serious cuts and serious revenue, they will be going against more than 60 percent of the American people, who, in nearly every poll both before and after this bogus "compromise agreement" belived both are critical.

    August 8, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Barry is done.....guess that "hope and change" just didn't work out

    August 8, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Mason

    Obama wanted us to be more like Europe as there is no such thing to him as American exceptionalism. He has accomplished his mission. By the way Tea Party Congressman will not be the ones losing their seats over this deal. I have lived in over 10 southern states with Tera Party support in those areas is stronger than ever. All their warnings have come to fruition.

    August 8, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Bob S Philadelphia, Pa

    It's a fact that we could raise the taxes on the wealthy 2 % of the American people 100 % and it wouldn't put a dent in our deficit so now whats your answer?

    August 8, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Namekracer

    Well I hope the tea party is happy they are controling congerss and the replublicans (ritch people) have now got this country in a real bind and the lieing sob are trying to blame all this on Obama. Well people Boy George ain't coming back thank god. Boy George got us into a war that's costing us gazillins of dollars ona lie and you people want to blame it on the dem's. Boy George dereged. The banks for his ritch buddys and look what happened there. So keep it up tea partyers and the country will go into a depression.by the way I hope you people figure out the reason we don't have any jobs is because the replublicans have for years now ghanged laws to let there ritch buddys I manufactering move all the jobs off shore with no terrifs and no taxes payed. So you want to go to work go overseas and make $2.00 a day

    August 8, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. getu

    Discernment. I agree with you 100%. poor Obama to be blemed for what Tea Bag and Republican did to this country. 1+1 is always 2 and never 3 or 5.despite the whole obstructionism of Republicans when Democrat were in control of the three branch of government the economy of this country was getting much better. now we have the house under Tea bag and Republicans so here the bad economy.I hope those who elected this ediot in 2010 loss their job, retierment savings, house and health insurance and see if what they did worth.

    August 8, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. pt

    Hey super mario bro. , your n idiot. I'm a construction worker. During the housing boom I saw plenty of greed to go around. All I hear from you dumbasses is that 100 percent of our problems are the fault of 5 percent of the population. Mabey if your massiah Obama could have gotten his great socialist baleout passed as soon as he got in office, it may have had a better affect. He can't even lead this country when democrats held the whitehouse and both houses in congress. He's incompitant........just like the last idiot. 2 nuts in the same sac, and dumbasses like you will see to it that we have another 2 term catastrophy!

    August 8, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. holly

    Let's see...you blame the Republican Congress for unemployment. Hmm. Obama's been in office 3 years. Since then 2 million jobs created.....9 million jobs lost. Where are the jobs he promised???

    August 8, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Just what the GOP wanted for 2012. They've worked very very hard to achieve another economic collapse and double-dip recession in hopes of taking down not only Obama, but the federal gov't itself.

    "I have lived in over 10 southern states with Tera Party support in those areas is stronger than ever. All their warnings have come to fruition."

    Because they worked to fulfill their own prophecies in order to claim they were right.

    August 8, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Durundal

    For all the intelligent people who think it is a simple matter of putting in a cut cap and balance measure, do the world a favor and next time do not vote. You arm chair economists havent a clue of the implications or repercussions of half arsing a policy without any understanding of the context timing or ripple effects. Heck, it seems like half of you are so smart youd rather push an anti free trade/protectionist agenda next as a way out. Guess what, that only raises domestic prices and long term reduces the competitive ability of the firm...

    Rather than trying to de-fund/caniibalize the education system you should have taken more advantage of it

    August 8, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. LegendRx

    Get you thumbs from out of your asses America because if you should cough, elephant dung will be everywhere. This is totally and absolutely the workings of the republican party and you were an eye witness to the unfolding event. but instead of placing blame on the republican part and candidates, because of you hate for black people and our president because he is of african heritage, thus undermining his presidency, to destroy him, you destroy America to get to him. It is a shame that all of you white racist, still have the blame the black man mentality. "Can you describe the perpetrator white america? Yes he was black bushy hair slim and wore a Goatee." That is rich!

    August 8, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. Tea Party Mike

    Our nation is in serious trouble.
    Both parties have a part in the blame for the debt and deficits . Both parties are equally guilty of the gridlock climate in Washington. Obama and the Democrats blame Republicans and the Tea Party for everything. Republicans blame Obama and the Democrats for everything. Democrats will not touch the biggest drivers of the debt, Social Security and Medicare and won't cut spending unless you hold the debt ceiling over their head. Republicans won't raise taxes.
    We need solutions. It is said Obama and Boehner were close to a deal that included 800 billion in increased revenue through tax reform and Obama had ageed to changes to Medicare and Social Security. Democrats were furious with Obama for compormising on Medicare and Social Security and the deal blew up when Obama asked for 400 billion more than the already agreed on 800 billion in revenue increase. I think we need to return to this deal for the final solution.
    Out side of the Boehner/Obama deal that fell through, the only bills that have been written and passed that would have reduced the defiicts enough to avoid a downgrade were Republican bills. They were killed by the Democrats in the Senate and Obama said he would veto them if passed.
    In the close to 3 years since Obama became President, Democrats have not even tried to pass a bill that would have satisfied the S & P. Democrats only agreed to cut any spending at all to avoid a default. They really wanted a clean debt ceiling bill with no deficit reduction. The last budget the Dmocrats had the guts to pass was scored by the CBO with nearly a trillion dollar annual deficits for the next 10 years. This was the final spark that set of the Tea Party. Democrats have not passed a budget since becasue they want to hid from the public that it would be no better than the last one they passed. Democrats have called for tax increases, but the tax increases they have asked for amount to less then 1 trillion over the next 10 years. A lot of money, but not even close to enough to have avoided the S & P down grade.
    All Americans should be thanking the Tea Party for FORCING congress and Obama to actually begin deficit reduciton.
    So far only Republicans have actually put forward detailed plans that would actually solve the probem. These plans are not supported by Democrats. Time the Democrats to actually come up with a detailed solution of their own. Once the Democrats have a plan, the two parties could work on a compromise. Perhaps one similar to the Boehner/Obama one that close to a deal. The truth is I do not think there is any plan the Democrats can stomach. They really want to increase spending and government and don't care about the deficits. This whole deficit reduction thing gets in the way of all the new government they want to create. I hope I am wrong on that point. If Democrats would really support a deal similar to what Boehner and Obama were close on, this problem could actually get solved.

    August 8, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Fair is Fair

    "This is what the RIGHT would do – and NOT care – in an effort to make President Obama a "one-term" President."
    --–
    Hey T'sah – how's that coffee party thing working out for you?

    August 8, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
    -------------------------------------------------–
    Boy, Fair is something is in her element bashing the President and rejoicing in what she Four and some more, et al perceive as his demise. Only a Rethug would rejoice in ANY and all setbacks induced by them and the Teatards, and experienced by the our country because ONLY a Rethug would want the demise (at least politically huh Fair?) of our President to ensure their return to power. Sorry guys but your CELEBRATORY mood is not only unpatriotic and offensive but also premature.
    No matter which way the President went on this "never before occurrence" your team was poised to tag him with the fallout. Yet unlike team GOTards the President is focused NOT on bringing about the politcal destruction of an individual but on rebuilding what is left of our nation.
    So party on Fair is Fair and rejoice in your country's demise, very AmeriKKKan of you.
    Obama 2012.

    August 8, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Rick McDaniel

    You would think, an intelligent person, like Obama, would understand basic economic principles, like you cannot spend more than you take in, and you certainly cannot do that, for any extended period of time.

    August 8, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. Malty

    Obama's policies have failed. It's time to consider voting him out in 2012. He and his administration have no experience in job creation (sorry, the private sector drives the economy and pays for the public sector), fiscal responsibility, or common sense (apparently). He makes everything a crisis in the hopes of forcing his ideology through (see Obamacare).

    Obama would make a horrible private sector CEO. His company would be gone in less than 2.5 years.

    August 8, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Can someone explain what "Where's Obama's Plan?" means. I think the people who have been shout it out during the debt ceiling debate don't realize what they sound like. The entire debt ceiling debacle was a manufactured crisis to damage the economy. Republicans decided to create a "deficit reduction plan" and attach it to the debt ceiling increase. Then they began shouting about where's the President's plan. Why would the president need one?

    This is how it looks to me. Two kids are playing in the backyard. The one in the sandbox shouts to the one swings, "Look, I built a sand castle. Where's yours?" Again, "Where's yours?" First kid runs to mama and shouts, "Where's his sand castle?"

    The second kid looks at the first one as if he were crazy, and righfully so. Meanwhile, mama decided to give the first kid a spanking on Election Day.

    August 8, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Chris~Albany, NY

    Damn Mason, you've lived in 10 states in the last 3 years? Wow that's a lotta movin around. Lotta of Tera Party support ehh? Is that part of the Grene Movement? Tera Cotta Movement maybe?

    To all you morons talking about socalism, shut up! You yourselves partake in SOCALISM. Do any of you eat food? Do any of you buy gas? Have any of you folkes used public education? Do any of you drive on roads? Point being is that I can go on and on and on and on and on...get over it and STFU!

    August 8, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. valwayne

    Folks, the humilation of having our AAA credit rating downgraded for the first time in all of history is directly due to the failure of Obama's extreme let wing policies. After nearly 3 years of Obama nothing is better, and everything is getting worse, except we are trillions and trillions and trillions further into debt. Obama just threw money at every left wing special interests that moved and wasted it all. Where are the new roads, and bridges, and dams and gleaming new infrastructure he promised along with all the new jobs. Nowhere folks, nowhwere! All we have after 3 years of Obama is massive UNEMPLOYMENT, Massive wasted spending, Nation destroying debt, the loss of our AAA credit rating. Humilation in front of the entire world. The problem is President Barack Hussein Obama folks!

    August 8, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. seriously???

    Unbelievable how idiotic and warped some poster's comments on here are. Four and The Door and The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE – The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends.... your delusional misinformed rants never cease to amaze me. You're so far in outer space, so distant from reality, that you should be studied by NASA to see how you got light years away in a lifetime.

    August 8, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. Steve in Denver

    @Day of reckoning: Funny how utterly oblivious to the facts you are. "Tax increases don't create jobs." How does that reconcile with the fact that the 1992 Democratic Congress and Clinton raised taxes, and that led to 24 million new jobs in Clinton's presidency, the first balanced budget in 29 years, and unprecented prosperity for ALL?

    Not bush derangement syndrome, you have head in the sand "tax cuts create jobs" syndrome.

    August 8, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. New Age Independant

    @diridi "raise taxes on wealthy and corp....please...please...need revenue...now..."

    Typical of a liberal. Take the money from someone else. How about some good old fashioned fiscal responsibility. Perhaps reigning in on the out of control spending for wasteful and unneeded programs?

    August 8, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Steve in Denver

    @Four and the door: "We know the bill as Cut, Cap and Balance. It is a jobs creating bill that actually saves the government money at the same time."

    You didn't do any better than Rick Perry in economics, eh? The FACTS of macroeconomics are that any large scale infusion of money into the economy, such as by government borrowing, has a stimulative effect on the economy. Any large scale withdraw of money from the economy, such as reducing the amount of borrowing or paying down the debt, has a suppressing effect on the economy. Therefore, cut, cap, and balance would cost jobs, not help in their creation.

    Long term deficit spending is not good, but cut cap and balance would increase unemployment, and further slow the economy.

    Every time I look at this blog you are spreading ignorance. Don't you have a job?

    August 8, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. NYCitizen

    I think the United States of America should re-invest in itself! Look at all the infrastructures that need work! Our bridges, tunnels, roads need so much repair and shoring up. Why can't the federal government create jobs to re-build and repair our infrastructures! How about solar energy??? Build fields and fields of solar panels in areas to supply power to our towns and cities! Reduce the amount we pay out in foreign aid to other countries. We don't have to stop giving aid to other countries, but how about cutting back on how much aid we give??? The United States of America lost its pride in itself when our jobs got outsourced through NAFTA. What happened to Made in America and the pride that went with it? Bring it back, NOW!!1

    August 8, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. AEK

    Seems to me that the stock market was running at about 8,000 when President Obama took office. On a really bad day like today it is still over 11,000. Another opportunity for the Republicans to blame President Obama for everything.

    August 8, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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