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. Balls McGhee

    John Johnson, democrats had the house in 2007, not 2006. plus, you are a complete partisan loser if you believe that up until the day the democrats took office, the housing market and bank bookkeepping was perfectly fine. Were you born yesterday?

    September 13, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Fred Phred

    Well just-sayin:

    One person's snake oil is another person's stock market record high. Personally I prefer it when the stock market is high than where it was 4 years ago.

    If that's snake oil, please get me some more.

    September 13, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. Big Al

    I say we need another war. Iran is a good place to start. America must sacrifice for Israel. Even if it means the loss of tens of thousands of our men and women in uniform and also if it means another trillion dollars to do it. The only way we will get to heaven is to protect Israel.

    September 13, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. Balls McGhee

    i make double what i did now than 4 years ago. i am not worried about losing my job (and contrary to republican straw man beliefs, i do not work for the government). my 401k and stocks have nearly doubled since 4 years ago. game set match

    September 13, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. catmomtx

    just sayin

    obama ran against bush in 2008 with promises of hope and change. do you feel the hope? do you feel the change? is it for the better?

    ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Actually I do because I refuse to allow the Republican negative mantra of doom, gloom, be afraid, be very afraid, fear, scare, smear Obama is the reason your life is so miserable to get into my head. I rather give the President credit where credit is due. I have seen the efforts he has made to move our country forward and I have seen the efforts made by the Republican Party to destroy him and his Presidency. I'll stick with President Obama, thank you very much.

    September 13, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. Joe

    Just ask anyone that was in Iraq 4 years ago.

    September 13, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. agathokles

    Why pick, literally, "4 years ago?" Obama didn't take office until January 2009. Seems fairer to look at how things were about 6 months after he took office and compare them to now. No Obama policies could possibly have begun to have influence - one way or the other - immediately upon his taking office. "Four years ago," the market hadn't yet crashed. McCain was saying "the basics of our economy are sound."

    September 13, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Jerry R

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 8281 on 1/16/09, the last day before President Obama was inaugurated. On 9/13/12, it closed at 13,540. That’s a 63.5% increase since Obama became President. My retirement accounts are definitely better today than they were when Obama became President.

    September 13, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. Tree

    The four-year question doesn't work when there was a financial collapse, caused by the prior President from the opposite party, four years ago. We're not dumb enough to forget who occupied the Oval Office when the economy collapsed, who showed up right after, and which political party each came from.

    Silly you doing the first two years they were getting things done....equal pay, dont ask dont tell, obamacare and the list goes on. The third year is when the congress (rep) House did nothing and if it was moving the REP bust the bill.
    How bout that

    September 13, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. mcfarlas47

    There is no god but spending, and Obama is his prophet.

    September 13, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. H

    I have a job

    bonk the rest of ya'll

    September 13, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. just sayin

    the country is $5 TRILLION more in debt with endless debt in sight.
    over 20 million unemployed or under employed.
    over $16 trillion in debt and climbing fast.
    our childrens future is at stake.

    this is not about individuals. this is about the country. obama is killing the country. when the usa goes bankrupt, you will not be able to escape it.

    four more years of obama and the democrats and our kids are screwed. it's already too late to save us. but we must try to save them!

    September 13, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. Andrew

    Sorry, but this is the wrong question to be asking. Even if Obama can be blamed for the current situation, voting for Romney just because Obama is bad is a terrible way to vote. For all we know, Romney could be worse. The real question we should be asking is which choice is better.

    September 13, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. TY

    Yes, my 401 looks great.......pass the sugar please......

    September 13, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. gailb59

    It's not just what happen under Bush, lets go back further. Deregulation of our financial systems (by a Republican house) that were the seeds of the housing crash. NAFTA, one of many trade agreements we have made that has led to the massive off-shoring of middle-class manufacturing jobs, again, a Republican idea.

    September 13, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. what's up

    After QE3 and the stock market today, I am better off. But then the incompetent community organizer is still president. Between his high unemployment, his inability to create jobs and promote growth, and his ability to screw up the middle east, America is not better off.

    September 13, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Greg

    Reagan inherited a worse economy than Obama did (and let's be honest, Obama didn't "inherit" an economic mess...he asked us for it, he begged us for it, he promised us "I can fix this"...and he's failed miserably) and Reagan had it turned around in his first term. The only thing Obama has done is further strengthened his base...which are people who are so dependent on the Government that they can't wipe their own rear ends without a butt-wiping Czar telling them how to do it.

    September 13, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. Ancient Texan

    Michael Olenick- We remember the Carter administration starting a plan to allow poor people to buy homes. The plan was accelerated by Clinton and he requested the Glass/Stegal Banking regulations be withdrawn and signed the bill. Barney Franks, Chris Dodd and the Dems in Congress insisted that Fannie/Freddie were in good shape and they were not and caused the collapse of the Housing and mortgage industries. Bush tried to get new regs on Fannie/Freddie and the Dims refused.. SO....Bush didn't cause the economic collapse.DIMS did.

    September 13, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. ogthug

    Just ask Osama Bin Laden!

    September 13, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. TY

    Yes, my 401 looks great.......pass the sugar please...... yes we can!

    September 13, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. Semi-Retired

    In regards to CNN's Poll, I am MUCH BETTER OFF TODAY than I was four-years ago. Let's go down the list:
    1. Paid Off Mortgage – October 2009
    2. Paid Off Car Loan on Brand New 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid – November 2011
    3. Bumped up my 401(K) allocation to 29% and saving maximum contributions for past four years, including 50+ catch-up contributions
    4. Have over $600K in net assets to include taxable and tax-deferred accounts + real estate property
    5. Earning almost $80K per year and living the "American Dream" as a single bachelor
    6. In excellent, superb health, while fully insured

    Yes, I think I'm doing okay and much better than I was four years ago.

    September 13, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. Melinda

    4 years ago we Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had just got bailed out, we were heading towards the auto bailouts and were 2 months away from the election so yes we are much better off than 4 years ago.

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

    Why pick, literally, "4 years ago?" Obama didn't take office until January 2009. Seems fairer to look at how things were about 6 months after he took office and compare them to now. No Obama policies could possibly have begun to have influence – one way or the other – immediately upon his taking office. "Four years ago," the market hadn't yet crashed. McCain was saying "the basics of our economy are sound."

    September 13, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Jimmy

    The Obamamites are better off feeding off of Hope & Change. The rest of us who live in the real United States are struggling. So what else is new?

    September 13, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  25. lois a pelishek

    President Bush got the gas down to $1.85 gallon. That is because we were going to drill for our own oil. Now Mr. Obama will not let us drill. We have more oil than the middle east. More coal, natural gas, and natural resourses. But he want to support other countries than our own. CNN is no news channel go to Fox and talk radio to get the real news. The last two years of Clinton has a Republican Congress. They did what they had to do and they dragged Clinton kickking to sign those bills that helped our country to recover. It was the democratic Congress of the last two years of Bush that everything went wrong. And now it is up to the Americans to do the right thing. Romny and Ryan.

    September 13, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
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