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. dontbow

    obama is a train wreck

    September 13, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. GayAtheist

    I am so much better off than I was 4 years ago...and so is General Motors and all their working employees.

    September 13, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. Syd

    Yes, yes I am.

    September 13, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Cap'n Rita

    While I am worse off (unemployed) than I was 4 years ago, the ball was rolling toward that end 5 years ago when the company who bought out the one I was working for started shutting down stores. I was just fortunate enough to be one of the last ones out the door. Now, I am applying for anything that comes even remotely close to what I was making (and that wasn't great). I would be happy just to be as good as I was 4 months ago.

    September 13, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. Jokesterer

    Ask Ambassador Stevens if he's better off now than he was 4 years ago.

    September 13, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. HunterPSU

    I am better off...I keep getting raises on my government check...I dont even have to do nothin. Also now I get free insurance and birth control...but I aint gonna use it because if Ihave some children I can become a citizen. Thanks Presidente Obama...Only thang I no like is how my kids free breakfast make them get up so dang early in the morning..Aint school time to early...B.O. cant ya get school to start at 10 ?

    September 13, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. SHUT UP

    All of you crying and blaming Obama that things have not turned around in the 4 years he's been in office needs to look at the bigger picture...how long did it take us to get into this situation??? If it took longer than 4 years to get into this mess, you best believe it is going to take longer than 4 years to get out of it. You dumb a$$ people need to shut up and think that this is not a MICROWAVE SOCIETY and this is not going to change because you lazy a$$ conservatives support a dumb a$$ like RobMe and Lyin Ryan.

    September 13, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. Sniffit

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

    Hint: You aren't...and you haven't been for the past 40 years due to the GOP's trickle-down fairy tales. During that period the middle-class has shrunk, middle-class salaries have remained stagnant and failed to keep up with inflation, the cost of living has risen dramatically all across the country, the cost of health care rose at 3-4 times the rate of inflation in the rest of the economy and the exrtemely tiny percentage of the population that is exorbitantly rich grew their share of the nation's wealth and income by over 225% while the share belonging to the middle-class and poor shrunk substantially. So, technically, no. The only people who can truthfully answer this question with a yes are the less than 1% of the population who have actually benefitted from the GOP's reaganomic voodoo nonsense.

    September 13, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. once upon a horse

    if you flashback to then GOP hopeful Herman Cain he said that "if you are poor or unemployed it's YOUR OWN FAULT" and the crowd cheered. So now could it be that part of the 44% that are not better off is due to them not even trying? Think about it and get back to me later.

    September 13, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. afaquaholic

    not better off, but i know where the blame lies. my house was devalued by all those who got loans 5/1 years ago at rates they couldn't afford once they increased and then flooded the market with foreclosures. my job stalled because every company out there drew their purse strings closed 3.5 years ago when the financial market crashed. both of these issues were due to failed republican policies so not really interested in putting them back in power. everyone looks at 16 trillion in debt as nasty, but i look at the 50% increase in debt under the last republican admin as worse. sure the gdp increased more under the republicans, but guess what the average take-home of the middle class was flat, so where did that money go? so did obama provide the promised recoveries? no. do i feel any safer handing it back to the republicans, nope.

    September 13, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. BLKMANinAmerica

    INTRESTING how the repuks want to blame President Obama for not cleaning up all their MESS in 3.5yrs, but everyone and their mommas know all to well it was GW Bush and the repuk Congress that really and truly DESTORYED this country and the Worlds economy. But............................all of the TEFLON repuks just continue to show America just how TRIFLIN and DESTRUCTIVE they are. VOTE DEMs in 2012 to change this madness.

    September 13, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. como1

    It is sad that 1 man, Bush, is supposed to be solely responsible for the economy today after a Democratic dominated Congress in 2006, a Democratic majority in the House and Sentate as of 2008 to 2010. And the constant whining by Obama "its not my fault" after 3.7 years as president. Obama has FALLED to turn the economy around and the US is far less respected worldwide today than at anytime in the past 40 years.

    September 13, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. Dreamer96

    Better off with no GOP in control of the White House..Yes..Too bad the Tea Party moved in and stopped any more help for America...So many of the New Tea Party are rich and have gotten that way by getting Government money, or using insiders to get great government deals..

    September 13, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. Bookenz

    The question we should be asking is not if we're better off than four years ago, but just how bad off we'll be in the next four years if Romney get into office.

    September 13, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  15. Ryan

    So you're asking people if they're better off than they were before the financial meltdown that caused the worst recession since the great depression? Remember September 2008? Who was president again? The salient question is whether we're better off than we would have been under another president, which is fundamentally unknowable, despite the certainty we all seem to express on the matter. Whoever said there are no stupid questions was never asked if they're better off now than four years ago.

    September 13, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. ted

    Goin' where the wind don't blow so strange,
    Maybe off on some Obama's Change.
    Survived one term but the prize wasn't anything,
    A knife in the back and more of the same.

    Same old, Liberal on the podium, going out on a limb,
    You know better but I know him.
    Like I told you, what I said,
    He'll Lie to your face right off your head.

    Let's hope he's GONE

    September 13, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. ExRepublican

    I blame Bush doing his days my job was outsource. I blame republican congress/ senate for not helping middle class.
    Republican stopping president Obama for doing his job that is bringing jobs back to america.
    Vote all republicans out of the office.

    September 13, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. Hitman

    Liberalism is truly a mental disorder forced on students in most American schools!

    September 13, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Unemployment if REALLY counted accurately is probably pushing 13-15%"

    Yawn. It was 14.2% in January 2009 and is 14.7% now. Wow...a whole 0.5% despite population growth far greater than that.

    September 13, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. Nick-o

    Financial services firm Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 15, 2008. Ask me the same question next week.

    September 13, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. winchester74

    DOW JONES AVERAGE ON THE DAY OBAMA TOOK OFFICE: 7,949.09
    DOW JONES AVERAGE TODAY: 13,539.86
    Numbers don't lie.
    Republicans do.

    September 13, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. just sayin

    all i can say is that if i have to endure another 4 years of obama on tv every night blaming everybody else for the problems in this country and inciting class warfare, i'll be looking to pack up all my assets and head to a safe island. i'm not sticking around for the riots, looting and economic collapse.

    September 13, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. Michael

    How long will we continue to blame "W"? As long as we're still PAYING for all his mistakes! At LEAST that long!

    September 13, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. nobama

    Romney and Ryan did not ask this question. CNN did. A leftist Democratic web site. I agree. This leader .took us all into the out house crapper. He is no leader, but a communist.No foreign policy. USA is at fault for every event that happens. He has no will to help out, just get the campaigning in while others suffer. This man is a total idiot along with his party of clones.

    September 13, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. Real Talk

    Were Better of here in Boise, ID. This is a global problem and certain areas are doing better than others. For example Boise, ID and Ohio. Stop blaming Obama or Bush and start blaming congress!

    September 13, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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