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. bushfailledus

    this time 4 years ago we were losing 75k jobs a month. Obama saved us from a deep depression and now we are in a recovery. If not for congress we would be in a much better place right now but we are still better off than we were 4 yrs ago in spite of Congress. Obama 2012!

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

    They called a bunch of folks with land lines? So the average age of their sample was 70, 80 years old?

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

    please. people FEEL like they're worse off. But are much better of. If you had a 401k, you'd see the diffrence between the DOW being 13000 and 6500.

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

    Obama has never taken the blame for anything. He's a liar and has a God-complex. He thinks he's untouchable. Way too many welfare programs. Get off your butts and get a job.

    September 13, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. winchester74

    When and if Mittney releases his tax returns – we will find out that he is definitely better off today than he was 4 years ago. Mittney required Ryan to turn over 10 years of tax returns. Mittney's dad – George Romney turned over 12 years of tax returns when he ran for President. But Mitt can't turn his over because the stink would be even worse than it is now.

    September 13, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. Mich

    It's been going on for quite some time people. This just didn't happen with Barack Obama. We are talking of Decades of misspending, corporate abuse and generally people with their head in the sand who didn't care. Well guess what folks? It doesnt matter who is behind the helm because we are going for a ride and it isn't going to be that enjoyable. We all have ourselves to blame and both sides of government for letting it happen.

    September 13, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Greg

    fatzer: He has a plan. It is called Amerrican Jobs plan. He had it asince late last year. Most economists said it would create real jobs, 1.7 million jobs. GOP killed it. Blame them not Obama.

    September 13, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. Mich

    It's been going on for quite some time people. This just didn't happen recently. We are talking of Decades of misspending, corporate abuse and generally people with their head in the sand who didn't care. Well guess what folks? It doesnt matter who is behind the helm because we are going for a ride and it isn't going to be that enjoyable. We all have ourselves to blame and both sides of government for letting it happen.

    September 13, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. truth

    Over $4 TRILLION in debt added by Obama in 3 years – more than Bush added in 8 years.

    September 13, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  10. drkent3

    What does 'financially better off' mean? Total assets, including value of home? Income? Psychologically secure? The question is very subjective, and since the average person has a memory about 6 months long at best, the answer is mostly going to be answered along party lines.

    September 13, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. Anon

    The Dow is about 2000 points higher now than it was four years ago. That sounds good to me!

    September 13, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. Al

    In a nut shell NO. I had a higher paying job, I worked less hours. Today after being laid off from a very large security company along with 200 others. I found myself accepting a job that paid less than I was but Obama had just become President and the company found it more profitable to outsource the job with the change that had taken place in Washington and they let us know. So NO I was better off before there was a President Obama, hopefully this time next year I'll be better off without an Obama in office.

    September 13, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Most people do not understand that Catch-22 that the Obama administration found itself in. The economy was in bad shape, really bad shape. Most recessions have always begun primarily in one sector of the economy; housing, energy prices, airlines, auto makers, etc. The other economic sectors have always had enough strength to lead us out of an economic downturn in fairly short order. Not this time.

    The Great Recession hit all sectors across the board with equal impunity. We were on the verge of economic collapse. In fact, we had went over the cliff with the Wall Street collapse. Neither the Bush or the Obama administrations didn't or couldn't really express that publicly because of the risk of public panic.

    The history books will show that American Recovery Act allowed our plunge over the cliff to come in for a hard landiing, instead of complete obliteration. The Obama administration has been criticized for not communicating how bad the economy really was, and Republicans have taken advantage of the position the administration found it self. They couldn't be brutally honest with the public, and the Republicans have known it all along.

    September 13, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  14. Big_D

    I suspect a bad poll. What did Mark Twain say about this? There are liars, damn liars, and statisticians.

    September 13, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. dontbow

    yea cnn will now have you believe the country is better off than 4 years ago, idiots! we have two very large illusions in this country right now, obama and the news organizations that keep trying to make him look like a saint. he is more like an "aint"

    September 13, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  16. TerryG

    Of course we're better off. No unprovoked and unfunded wars, no more tax cuts we can't afford, no 750,000 jobs lost every month, the DJI & S&P have more than doubled, and we have a president who can pronounce nuclear.

    September 13, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. Mammy

    Poor people are poor because Christ hates them. Romney/Ryan 2012! Go, rich people!

    September 13, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. Sam

    Seriously, I don't get it. I came here as an immigrant 10 years ago. My first job paid me $7.25/hr. Over the period of 10 years, I've worked very hard and has developed myself into a full-blown career-oriented person making six-figures in the IT industry. Some people here just don't realized the many blessings and opportunities this country provides. They would rather live a care-free life and expect help from the Government or any possible means. If a refugee can turn his life around from around $20,000/yr to six-figures...what's the excuse for a typical American who was born and breed here with so endless opportunities?

    September 13, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. dontbow

    well the unions and union workers are better off and bought off. lol enjoy the tax dollars.

    September 13, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  20. libs_r_evil

    Funny thing is, democrats took control of Congress in 2006!!!!! Thats when all of this started! nobama will quickly blame Bush on one hand, while on the other he will remind you that he does not make policy, Congress does. So again he is not to blame. Congress makes policy, not the President. So how can it be Bush's fault, but not nobamas????? It is the democratically controlled Congress since 2006, as well as CAREER POLITICIANS on both sides of the aisle, that are to blame here!!!

    September 13, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. Ken in MD

    America as a whole is much better off now than 4 years ago. Jobs are being created instead of lost, the housing industry is improving instead of collapsing, the auto industry is thriving instead of on the verge of bankruptcy. Unemployment has always been a lagging indicator.

    Businesses are sitting on billions of dollars and not hiring. Now they say they're waiting for the election results. You have to wait for the election to decide whether to hire or not? Politicizing jobs is not helpful to the economy. Of course big businesses don't care about America. They already send most of their work overseas for cheap labor.

    September 13, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. ghostriter

    Well, according to some republican governors, we are better off. Ask Kasich. Oh, he'll tell you that we are better off, but not due to Obama. He tried to downplay the auto bailout saved jobs, but those still working aren't fooled.

    September 13, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. derp

    Last year I Made 40% more than at any time before 2009. Rode the stock market from 7000 up to 13,000. Company I work for had record years in 10', 11' and will again in 12'. House is worth $100K more than it was when I bought it when real estate crashed in 2008. If you are doing worse than you were in 2008, it's your fault, not the governments.

    September 13, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. Ronda in Houston,TX

    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.
    ********************************************************************************************************************************************
    Romney, who are you going to spin this one?????

    September 13, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. Nick-o

    We've been handing oil companies billions of taxpayer's money for over a decade, and then they make 100's of billions in profits. This is just one of many examples how corporate fascists have already taken over. They may not own the president, but they sure bought Mitch McConnell. How's come corporations get tax breaks, pay jack squat tohard working people, cut their benefits and health care, and then reap huge profit margins at year's end while stashing these profits in offshore accounts to avoid taxation. But the Obama haters will continue to listen to lies and preach on about "government handouts", despite welfare growing under BUSH more than ANY president before or after!

    September 13, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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