December 11th, 2007
04:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Economy outpaces war on list of voters' worries

A new poll indicates voters are more worried about the economy than the Iraq war.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – More than half the American public - 57 percent - now believe the nation is in a recession, compared to 42 percent who do not, according to new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Tuesday. (Full poll results [PDF])

That number is up significantly from the October survey, when only 46 percent believed the U.S. economy was in recession.

On the question of whether the nation is in recession, the poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percent.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland notes, "Economic optimism has dropped 12 points since the fall - in September 62% thought economic conditions would get better in 2008 but only 50% feel that way now."

Thanks to that unease, the economy has now topped the war in Iraq as the issue most poll respondents identified as the most important in helping them decide which presidential candidate to support.

Twenty-nine percent of poll respondents said the economy was their top issue, compared with 23 percent who listed the Iraq war – a reversal from October’s results, when 28 percent listed the war and 22 percent pointed to the economy.

On the issues question, the poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The poll, conducted December 6-9, involved telephone interviews with 1,002 adults.

- Senior Political Producer Scott Anderson

Filed under: Economy
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. J Houston, TX

    50 percent of Americans have a less than average understanding of how the economy works. And very few Americans have ANY understanding of how the economy works, so what use is a public opinion poll? How many of these people even save for retirement?

    December 11, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Andrew, Evansville, IN

    Yellow journalism is alive and well.

    December 11, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Wayne, Greenville TX

    The other half are caled "Republicans".

    December 11, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. tm Riverside, CA

    If you are in the Mortgage and Real Estate business, your in a recession.

    December 11, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. Edward Mitchell, Weslaco, TX

    For those concerned about a recession (and which of us is not?) I would direct your attention to a bill currently before the House and Senate (HR25 and S25)known as the "fair tax bill." For those not familiar with the Fair Tax and its ability to reverse recession and at the same time help susbstantially reduce our national debt
    please visit on the web. Now is the time to see which of the presidential candidates is willing to make the Fair Tax their priority.

    December 11, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Nando, Palm Coast,FL

    Last time I checked we are having economy problems because of this STUPID WAR that Like 600 Trillion Dollars ? who do you think is paying for that?

    CNN you need Help

    December 11, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. Marshal Phillips, Wichita, Kansas

    Rem It's the Economy, stupid?
    Are we better off now after Bush?
    Were we better off under Clinton?
    What happend to that Clinton surplus?
    The economy will be a biggie this election cycle.

    December 11, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. Howard, NY

    It's great when we poll Americans on issues that most of us don't understand. How about a poll of economists?

    December 11, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Brad, from the great state of Texas

    Ah, there you go again Wayne from Texas (say it ain't so!)... another brilliant one-liner with no facts to back it up.

    Most of the folks I know that complain about the economy are the same people who don't save, spend their money on pointless material possessions like ipods, make needless purchases with credit cards, and don't care to further their own careers through higher education or by working harder. Then, they expect the government to make up the difference.

    People, I have a child with a lifelong ailment, cerebral palsy, and the medical expenses (even with good insurance) are sometimes enormous. Yet, my family continues to make ends meet, even with my middle-class income, and without ANY assistance from the government. So forgive me for the following: QUIT COMPLAINING AND START TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF. Not everything is Bush's fault, you know.

    December 11, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  10. Ca Native

    CNN – you continually provide useless reports of how people "feel". You commit great time and statistics to how 1002 adults "feel" about the economy but ZERO facts regarding current economic indicators.

    Is this country in a recession? NO.

    Are there some in this country who are having a hard time? Sure.

    Welcome to the real world. WHEN the country gets into a recession – let us know. Otherwise your continued skewing of anectodal evidence only perpetuates your incompetent reporting.

    December 11, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  11. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    WE are headed for a recession. When you have people living off their houses with very little or nothing in savings, then you know we are headed for it. Some sections of the country are already there, just ask the folks in Southern California, Las Vegas,
    Florida, to name a few. Here in the 'good ol' midwest' not so much.

    It is the economy, stupid. And the other part of this equation is the stupid war which has caused a huge public debt problem. A troubled economy always favors the democrats. The republicans have nearly always caused problems with the economy. I find it utterly amazing that the democrats are always tagged with the tax and spend label, let's call the republicans the debt and deficiet spenders. They don't want to raise taxes but they would rather borrow the money and spend more then they borrow. No wonder we are in so much trouble.

    December 11, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. Gary, Detroit, Mich.

    tm Riverside, CA

    And if you live in Michigan you are in a depression. And we owe it all to Republican Free Trade Extremism.

    December 11, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  13. Bill Albany ny

    98% of all statistics are made up, right there, on the spot.

    December 11, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  14. Gary, Detroit, Mich.

    Howard, NY

    Come to Michigan and you will be able to see more square feet of vacant and/or abandoned industrial real estate, office space and housing than probably anywhere else in this country.
    And it's not just limited to the Detroit area. I don't need an economist to tell me what I can see for myself.

    December 11, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  15. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    Why not ask the same 1,002 people their learned opinion of quantum physics, the principles of biochemistry, molecular science, or even Chinese arithmetic, since most Americans don't understand those things either?

    Howard from NY said it best: how about a poll of economists, or maybe even just MBAs?

    See, this is an OPINION poll, not a KNOWLEDGE or SKILL SET poll. The pollster is seeking not what a person KNOWS, but rather, how the respondent FEELS.

    Well, how about asking these same 1,002 Fulbright Scholars what they think of American Idol... at least ask them something with which they may be knowledgeable and qualified to state an opinion.

    December 11, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  16. Jon B Olathe KS

    The ignorant masses don't have to understand the economy to feel the pain of the ecoonomy.

    Bush's tax cuts caused deficit spending which drove the fed to manipulate interest rate which led to inflation which made the middle and lower class workers dollar buy less...

    IT WASN"T A TAX CUT! It's wealth redistribution through inflationary pressure!

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable" – JFK

    How bad does it have to get before YOU will do something.


    December 11, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  17. Sam, Portland OR


    It'd be great if you took the next obvious step and defined a recession for us... as another poster mentions, most people don't know a thing about economics. I'm no expert on the media, but isn't it your job to inform the people? After all, the definition of a recession isn't a matter of someone's opinion, it's factual definition.

    December 11, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  18. Jason, Columbus OH

    GDP grew at 4.9% last quarter, the fastest growth in 4 years...

    Whew! What a recession!

    December 11, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Michael, Chicago, IL

    To those who think the American ppl are stupid, please remember that expectations are just as important to economic outcomes than data. If people believe that we're in a recession, they alter their spending to spend less and thus hurt the economy. So to those who are so critical of those polled, please remember that they are just as important to your livelihood as the institutions and individuals you think are so much more intelligent

    December 11, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  20. Dan, Sterling Heights

    We haven't had even one quarter of real negative economic growth....

    But I guess that doesn't matter because now all serious economic analysis is done wholly by public opinion polling!

    What in the world?

    Seriously, I'm not sure what this article should be filed under. News? Hysteria?

    December 11, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  21. Simon, IA

    If you are in the Mortgage and Real Estate business, your in a recession.

    Posted By tm Riverside, CA : December 11, 2007 4:41 pm

    Not true!! If you are in the commercial segment of real estate business, it's one of the best times.

    December 11, 2007 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  22. JVLapsley,upperblack eddy Pa.

    I'm not sure if you received this thought from myself,or not. americans need to wake up! Our Government needs to wake up, Our recession that we all are feeling, is primary due to this" President WAR".Borrowing money from china. Imagine if the US borrowed money from the USSR during the Viet Nam war.First we started to send our well paying jobs to mexico Now to China. I can't help wondering how our chiefs of staff ,felt like,when China told them what our military can do. I'm quite sure their already telling our corp. what they can do.Apparently this administration Is following China rules.I"M sure the Republicans will blame PRESIDENT CLINTON on Tafta, you check your history this agreement was set in motion long before President clinton came into power.,

    December 11, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  23. Doug Currie, Londonderry, NH

    If people are losing confidence in the economy now, just wait until tens of millions of us are hit with surprise Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) bills from the IRS this spring.

    December 11, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. Willy, Chesapeake,VA

    Liberal media tries hard to avoid the war and how good it's going for the USA but try to get us to focus on something that is not broken. Always trying to help out the democrats, that's why I love you CNN.

    December 11, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  25. ronnie knoxville, tn.

    Most of us spend too much money to keep up with the Joneses , then call it a "bad economy"

    December 11, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
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