CNN Poll: Are you better off than four years ago?
September 13th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Are you better off than four years ago?

Washington (CNN) - It was the question that Mitt Romney presidential campaign and Republican Party officials kept asking earlier this month: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

After some initial stumbling, the response from President Obama's campaign and other top Democrats was "yes."

So what do you think?

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A new national survey indicates that a plurality of registered voters say they're not better off. But a majority continue to blame former President George W. Bush and Republicans for the country's economic problems.

According to a CNN/ORC International poll (PDF) released Thursday, 37% of registered voters say compared to four years ago, their financial situation is now better, with 44% saying they're now financially worse off, and nearly one in five saying that their situation is the same. Among crucial independent voters, one in three say they're better off, with nearly half saying they're worse off and 17% saying they're in the same financial situation.

As for the country as a whole, nearly seven in ten say that current economic conditions are somewhat poor or very poor, with 32% saying conditions are very or somewhat good. Two-thirds say conditions will be very or somewhat good a year from now, with just over three in ten predicting they will be very or somewhat poor.

"That's a major switch from last year, when six in ten were pessimistic about the economy," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

INTERACTIVE: Are you better off?

As for who gets the blame for the current state of the economy, fingers are still being pointed at the former president.

"Since President Barack Obama's first year in office, a majority of Americans have said that former President Bush's policies were more responsible for current economic problems than Obama's policies were. That figure is at 57% today, with 35% saying the current president and Democrats are mostly to blame for economic problems," adds Holland.

As for which candidate would do a better job handling the economy, according to numbers released earlier this week, likely voters are divided between Obama and Romney, the GOP presidential nominee.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from September 7-9 (entirely after last week's Democratic National Convention), with 875 registered voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

BY THE NUMBERS: Are you better off?

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: 2012 • Economy • Mitt Romney • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. Evian Bidet

    in the past 4 years, my wife CHOSE to take a lesser paying job to be able to spend more time with our child. We are worse off, but in no way was that influenced by the economy or the person sitting in the white house.

    September 13, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. Will

    Trickle-down economics DOES NOT WORK - PERIOD.

    September 13, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. kayla

    am better off than i was 8 yrs ago

    September 13, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. George Cook

    NOT A FRIGGIN CHANCE...just look at the REAL NUMBER and not the "FUZZY MATH" the Dems and CNN are spewing out over the airways...Unemployment if REALLY counted accurately is probably pushing 13-15%

    September 13, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. rick1948

    Whether you are better off than you were four years ago is a totally meaningless question. Changes to economic policies take from 7-10 years to have any effect.

    September 13, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. Dave

    Thank you George W Bush for the horrible recession you and your party created.

    September 13, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. bill

    that 44% worse off category must be attributed to GOP members/donors who are having to pay taxes. Either that or it's wall street and overseas businesses that aren't getting all the breaks that the GOP used to give them. Other than that I don't know of how any real American could say we are worse off today than under the last GOP president. When was the last time the DOW was 13,500 like it is today? No way I'd ever trust another GOP to handle our economy.

    September 13, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. Bob

    Well, if we are not better off I sure wonder why so many have new cars, iphones and all the malls are full.

    September 13, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. G-Man64

    The 37% are Dems who are lying to provide cover for Obama.

    September 13, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Truth Seeker

    So, despite being handed an epic disaster that took George Bush eight years to create, our President Barak Obama has been able to clean up so much, so successfully in just four years, that almost half of the people polled think they are just as well off? That's great leadership. Well done, Mr. President.

    Re-elect Barak Obama!

    September 13, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. Greg

    The question makes no sense at all. Yes, "Financially" most are worse off. But compared to a bubble that majority knows did not reflect underlying reality. Houses were never really worth that much, assets were not really worth that much. There is absolutely no way majority could claim they have more sleepless nights now than they had 4 years. Absolutely not! So we are better off than 4 years ago, no doubt!

    September 13, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. bczu

    I mean we are technically better off. Just aren't as great as we were promised by Obama. But the real question is, would you hire the arsonists that burnt down your house to rebuild it? If so, vote Romney

    September 13, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. spockmonster

    Bush did a complete job of destroying our economy. It will take as long to recover from Bush as it did to recover from 1929. The whacko republicans, aka America's Taliban, need to go away forever.

    September 13, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Sam Hill

    Bush did a complete job of destroying our economy. It will take as long to recover from Bush as it did to recover from 1929. The whacko republicans, aka America's Taliban, need to go away forever.

    September 13, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Ruth

    My 401(k) is much better now than it was in 2008.

    September 13, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. Ed in Reno, Nevada

    What I find most ironic is that of all the people I work with, the "liberals" have continued working their way through these tough times, have paid their bills and are still in their homes. The "conservatives" have continued working through these tough times, didn't pay their bills, and have let their homes be forclosed or short sold all the while complaining that this is all Obama's fault. If we work at the same company and make the same rate pay, how can I be all right and you're losing everything? I think the fault lies elsewhere.

    September 13, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. FallingMiddleClass

    Honestly, no one is better off than they were four years ago because the people that CONTROL the purse strings, Congress for those that don't know, have refused to perform the duties for which any of them were elected. Why is it that none of the American citizens from any of the states has called out their representative in public and blasted them for pushing a personal agenda. Last I recall, elections were made by the people, for the people. Your personal views have NO place in the drafting and adopting laws. That's why laws are not created by the general public. Maybe the entire body of Congress should be charged by the US Justice Department with violating the public's civil rights. After all, the three post-graduate degrees that I slaved and toiled for afford me the ability and right to speak for myself.

    September 13, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. ghostriter

    fatzer, well, maybe because a good portion of what Obama wanted to do was stopped by the record setting filibustering republicans. SO maybe when they are done playing around, we can get some stuff done.

    September 13, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. AmericanWaxwing

    The numbers are off the charts. There really has been little if no recover at all. America is suffering much more than it needs to under this President. LESS people are working today than when our President took office - wake up, friends! We need a change in leadership in the White House!

    September 13, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. Rahmbo

    The Decider & The Dark Invader Are Gone, Heck Yeah We Are Better Off

    September 13, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. Henry

    Yes I am better off :) good job and small business booming. I bought my first home two months ago :)

    September 13, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  22. drkent3

    It is a leading question – four years ago, Bush was still in office and had 6 more months. The recession continued on for at least another year after that, and it was a MAJOR recession. The question is asked specifically to implicate the current administration with no real consideration for any other factors. For example – are you better off than you were three years ago? How do you define 'better off' and what is your basis – income or total assets? Since housing prices are down from even a couple of years ago, one could be making more income but be 'worse off' financially. Another mindless, attention-grabbing media trick to get people to read and argue while they rack up advertising dollars.

    September 13, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  23. Tracy

    I wish people would take responsibility for their vote for Obama 4 yrs ago instead of continuing to blame Bush! I mean really, Obama's had 4 yrs to do something, anything to improve the economy and the job market and he hasn't done anything but spend money ($5.2TRILLION).

    September 13, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. realtalker

    17 percent stayed about the same. Meaning financially speaking, most of the country either is doing better now or hasn't been effected by the economy the past 4 years. And while 44 percent is high we have to remember that the question is are you better off, not are you better off financially. 4 years ago we were losing 750,000 jobs a month and now we are gaining jobs. Show a statistic of how many people were worse off when the job market hit rock bottom and compare that with today's stat. I'll bet much of that 37% would have fallen into another category back then. But that's just one aspect. As a nation, we ARE doing better, financially and otherwise. It was a dismal picture 4 years ago. I remember the fear of potentially losing everything and dipping into a depression. Now, we are in a recovery. How could anyone really argue that we are not better off.

    September 13, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. bspurloc

    yeah Wmd Bush 8 years to destroy leaving 2 wars UNPAID for and the gop DEMANDING increased military spending with failed ARITHMETIC to pay for it.... yeah definitely Obamas fault

    September 13, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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