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. Robin

    I am better off because as a single mother of two, I completed three degrees and did not look for the government or anyone else to find me a job. Americans cannot blame anyone but themselves. Wow! you use your homes as an ATM machine, you got out and purchase these big SUVs; you allowed banks and large businesses to rob you. You put your money in a market that you cannot control. I'm very well off and proud that my children see that their mother is a doer and not a complainer. You better be glad that government save your behinds! At the end of the day; do you really think your employer or bank care that you loss a job. America has dummy down and the Internet is indicative of that. Create your own job!

    September 13, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. tar

    So what if the Dow is over 13000 (as referenced by winchester 74). How does this help me today with gas prices close to $4 and the cost of groceries going up constantly. Policies of this president and his administration certainly aren't helping in any way.

    September 13, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. Pat

    I am a democrat.. Nothing is or ever was my fault. We failed America since we had control but it wasn't my fault. Republicans are evil. Republicans are rich and hate women. No democrat is rich. No democrat hates or mistreats women. It was Monica's fault her dress got stained. It was the republicans fault Clinton lied to Congress. See, its never our fault.

    September 13, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. The_Mick

    I'm better off, but being retired it's because the stock market has recovered and raised my pension fund from being 60% funded to 84% fully funded, making my future more secure.

    September 13, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. Ozzie

    We need JOBS Now!! Ryan waste his time with the health care program.

    September 13, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. Let him self implode!

    Mitt where are your taxes. what are you hiding??!! And YEEES, I am better off -so there!
    Go Mr President. We love u.

    September 13, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  7. Brenda Bullard

    I love your "are you better off 4 years later poll?" where you asked 875 people that question by phone. And I really love reading all the comments where the majority of responses are from left wing Democrats. While you are not as bad as MSNBC you certainly are not "fair and balanced". Why would you support Barack Hussein Obama anyway? I just don't get that.

    September 13, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. deedie

    any one who says they are better off is either blind or they didnt have anything to start with and happy with nothing. the whole world is worse off and will continue to be until we have another president. CNN is unfair, unjust and not trust worthy I dont watch maybe two min. just to catch a glance it urps me.

    September 13, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Kay

    Blame Bush? Blame Congress? Blame Pelosi? Blame Obama? Does anyone take responsiblity for their own lives anymore? There's the problem but no one wants to admit it.

    September 13, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. Greg

    If you say you are better off, than you are either just plain lying, or just plain stupid.

    September 13, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. J

    Listen, it takes more than one (1) person to repair the economy and it surely will take more than four years to do it. We didn't get into a crisis over night and we won't get out of it over night. It takes EVERYONE doing his/her part in order to get our country moving forward again. To answer the question, yes, I am better off now than 4 years ago and I'm thankful for that.

    September 13, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. Laura

    Personally, yes.

    In the part of the country I live in, new road construction is everywhere. New businesses are opening, Existing businesses are expanding. Help Wanted signs are plentiful. Area restaurants are packed with customers. Everybody I know took a vacation this year. All of those things are an improvement over this time 4 years ago.

    September 13, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. gary

    I don't know about anyone else but my answer is yes. 3.5 years ago I was unemployed from the second company worked for layed me off. Everything isn't roses yet but in the last 2 years I have been stead doing contract work as a corporate recruiter.

    September 13, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. catmomtx

    John Johnson

    Let's not forget that the Democrats controlled Congress during the height of the financial turmoil (2006-2010, including the first two years of President Obama's term),
    ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Let us understand WHY the Democrats took control of Congress after the election of 2006. At the time, Republicans controlled ALL branches of government. If Republicans were doing such a fantastic job running the country, WHY did they lose control of Congress in the 2006 election? I recall that the American people had had enough of the spending. Bush NEVER vetoed a spending bill the entire time. Of course though as soon as he lost control of Congress he vetoed whatever bill he did not like.

    September 13, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. dreween

    Within the last 6 months, 4 homes on our block have gone into foreclosure. I am working two part time lower-wage jobs, that don't even come close to replacing my income from the I lost during the recession.

    Our cities unemployment rate is at 13%, franchises and large companies are closing down, and or leaving the city.

    I live in a state that is broke, and has the lowest financial rating in the country.

    So no, my family and I are NOT better off today than 4 years ago.

    By the way, I live in Illinois – where Barack worked before his current job.

    I can see first hand what he left behind here.

    September 13, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. Mike

    Yes this nation is better off than we were when Obama took office. If he had more support from Congress and the GOP this nation would be well on its way to recovery from the horrible 8 long years under the Bushes and 2 senseless wars. We no longer have to worry about Bin Laden. That is a real plus. Jobs are still a problem but that seems to be opening up as well. YES even if you are a Mitt Lover you will have to admit we are better off. My son can now be insured on my policy while he is in college. Thanks Obama

    September 13, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. Will

    I am better off due to what the nature of my profession and years of savings. I help raise money for some non-profits I belong to in my spare time and I can tell you most people are not better off. From the middle class to the wealthy giving is down. Ask people why they are not giving as much who have a lot to give and you will get some surprising answers. People are sitting on money right now – its tight.

    September 13, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. Woman In California

    Let's see now:

    My 401(k) is sitting pretty:
    I have received good raises/bonuses since Bush left (no raise in 2008 first time ever);
    My son landed a good paying job
    My sister landed a good job (out of work for a while);
    My son is on my insurance (which helped save his life);
    Companies are hiring again; and
    The country of a whole is NOT depressed anymore.

    Job well done Mr. President without any help from republicans in Congress.

    September 13, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. mcfarlas47

    The question should not be whether I am better off, rather is the nation better off than four years ago. There are three issues dominating us as a country: the debt, energy, and education. In the past four years our debt has skyrocketed, leaving all Americans with an unstainable burden. Our children will have a yoke around their necks that will drag them down for their entire lives. Shameful. Our energy policy is rediculous. Talk about outsourcing! We are paying countries enormous sums because our administration balks at bringing us to energy independence. Lastly, our education system is a joke. We are producing a nation of uneducated dullards who cannot compete with the rest of better educated countries. Are we better off? We are literally falling off a cliff.

    September 13, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. Marie MD

    ONE MORE TIME YES!!!
    While it might not be perfect the Dow closed at at 13,333.35 today. Nasdaq at 3,114.31.
    Just a little bit over four years ago (during the meltdown and almost depression during the shrub's administration) the DOW was down to 7,000 and most Americans whose 401k are entwined in the stock market lost half or more of their holdings and retirement money.

    September 13, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  21. dreween

    If you were hired for a job, and asked to make things better, but continuously blamed your predecessor for your lack of performance-based achievements, you would be fired.

    September 13, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. independent vote

    Question to all of the Obama supporters, if john McCain & S Palin were in charge for the last
    4 years and the economy was exactly the same as it is today would you be saying the same thing
    you are posting now or would you be saying how bad things are and how worst off we all are?
    I'm just looking for the truth.

    September 13, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. DJ

    Am I better off? No.

    September 13, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. Kev

    That must be the question of the year. Are we better off now than 4 years ago. NO were not. Take a look around you. And you have the gull to ask me that question. Obama I have no good words for the loser. This country is screwed up big time. This president will not take responsibility for anything he has done nor the democratic party has done. But yet this idiotic president will be quick to blame others for his stupidity and ignorance.

    September 13, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. mcskadittle

    markets crashing, job losses at 600000 a month, we are doing a lot better then that

    September 13, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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