December 22nd, 2009
12:19 PM ET
9 years ago

CNN Poll: Weak economic numbers dovetail with public perception

Washington (CNN) - Eight in ten Americans say that the economy is in poor shape, but that's an improvement from a year ago, according to a new national poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey's Tuesday release comes as the government reports that economic growth in the third quarter was much weaker than previously estimated.

According to the poll, 80 percent of Americans say economic conditions are poor. As bad as that sounds, it's a 13 point decline from last December. Twenty percent of the people questioned in the survey say economic conditions are good, up 12 points from a year ago.
"The good news is that Americans remain optimistic, with 58 percent forecasting that the economy will be in good shape a year from now," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Optimism is highest in big cities and lowest in rural areas."

With the nation's unemployment level at 10 percent, jobs are obviously a concern across the board, but the poll indicates a racial divide on the issue, with black Americans feeling they face a tougher job situation than whites. Fifty-four percent of blacks questioned in the survey say that African-Americans don't have the same chance as whites to get jobs that they are qualified for. Less than 1 in 4 white respondents agreed.

"Although 54 percent blacks today don't think that they have the same employment opportunities as whites, that's actually down significantly from past polls," Holland says. "In the 1990s, two-thirds of blacks felt that way, and in the 1960s, three-quarters shared that view."

The Obama administration will face several major policy questions in 2010, with the deficit, unemployment, and new regulation of financial institutions chief among them. Worries about the deficit are growing, but a majority of Americans still say that economic recovery should be a higher priority than reducing the deficit.

"And when the deficit is pitted against unemployment, that number grows higher. Fifty-seven percent say that economic recovery should be a higher priority for the Obama administration than deficit reduction; three-quarters say that reducing unemployment should take precedence over the deficit," adds Holland.

As for new financial regulations, 45 percent say there is too little government regulation of the stock market and other financial institutions. Six in ten say that those financial institutions have too much influence over the Obama administration.

According to the government's final reading released Tuesday, the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic activity, grew at an annual rate of only 2.2 percent in the three months ending in September. A month ago the estimate was growth of 2.8 percent, and the initial reading in October was more robust growth of 3.5 percent.

The latest report showed that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two thirds of the nation's economic activity, was much weaker than previously thought. Businesses also didn't do as much to build up inventories of goods as in the previous reading.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 16-20, with 1,160 adult Americans, including 259 African-Americans and 786 whites, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points

Full results (pdf)

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinuaser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: Economy
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. JT the Show Me State College Freshman

    Home resales surged last month to the highest level in nearly three years, reflecting an extraordinary level of federal support that has pulled the housing market back from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

    Buyers were racing to complete their sales before the original expiration date of a tax credit for first-time buyers that was scheduled to expire Nov. 30. Last month, Congress decided to extend and expand the credit to ensure the housing market could sustain its recovery.

    "Things are stabilizing," said Pete Flint, chief executive of real estate Web site "There is a significant amount of buyer interest out there."

    About 2 million homebuyers have taken advantage of the credit so far, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. The group forecasts that another 2.4 million will use it by the middle of next year. First-time buyers made up about half of all transactions last month, driving sales up 44 percent above last year's levels, a record jump.

    "In the short run, its an effective stimulus," said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. "If you give someone money to spend on something, they will spend it."

    November's sales rose 7.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.54 million, from a downwardly revised pace of 6.09 million in October, the Realtors group said. It was the highest level since February 2007. Sales had been expected to rise to an annual pace of 6.25 million, according to economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
    Yes, the economic conditions are not too great at this point, but there are signs out there that it is slowly starting to improve. The economy went unchecked and unregulated for nearly 3 decades. That has allowed the greed within us to nearly destroy ourselves, and now we have to break a 3 decade old habit of spending on whatever we want, to spending on things that we can afford and need without going into some type of debt, like credit card debt.

    December 22, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Right Leaning Independent

    Cleaning up Obama's mess will take a lot longer than cleaning up Bush's mess! Your pontif has made Bush look like a tightwad and I am afraid he is not done yet! Funny how folks say the Repubs are the party of "No" yet you fail to recognize that the Dems are the party of "Yes". As in "Yes" lets spend every penny that we do not have yet! They are as blatantly partisan to saying Yes as the Repubs are to saying No!

    December 22, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |

    CNN shows its obvious liberal bias in polling. Anyone notice that this "random" poll was a sampling included 259 African Americans out of 1160. Since when did African Americans make up 23% of the population? This is an obvious attempt by a liberal "news" channel attempting to stack the deck in favor of the outcome they want. Don't be fooled...just proves CNN is just a liberal outlet for their views. Is it any surprise their ratings are down?

    December 22, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. jane

    8 in 10 Americans are right. The economy is in poor shape. The Bush administration really did us in, and who knows how many more families will suffer - or be torn apart - because of it.

    It seems as though every time we have a Republican president, a Democratic administration then has to clean up after them.

    December 22, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. jacq

    I drive trucks it's the economy is recovering at a steady pace,the trucking industry felt it first when it almost came to a screeching halt I was sitting 3 days waiting on a load.Now I'm moving everyday,it takes time and by spring I think it'll be stronger then ever,someone is doing something right,instead of doing nothing at all,hmmm I wonder which party that is.

    December 22, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  6. Jane/Seattle

    Randolph Carter just made me LOL! If folks would just study more, many would see that this Global domination and Control has No real name defined for everyone. The "Shock Doctors" (Naomi Klein) live and believe a certain Code. This Code is being enacted upon the entire World! For some time now the laws in america have been getting whittled down to increase the powers of these global corporations and they are nearly monopolies once again. The marriage of Governments and Corporations IS The Definition of Fascism. Each country this has been done UPON/TO has experienced a different sort of scenario. However, the results are basically the SAME! If you don';t believe me, just keep watching for awhile! if you don't think I know, just read these books:
    "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism" – Naomi Klein
    "The End Of America: A Letter Of Warning To A Young Patriot" – Naomi Wolf
    "Confessions Of An Economic Hitman" John Perkins
    "Threshold" – Thom Hartmann
    No, I don't work for any of these authors! Wonder how many Drones will be sent out to kill on Christmas – The Holiday of Peace On Earth?

    December 22, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. The Root Word of Progressive is Progress

    "Yup, we bailouted the rich and they are doing just fine now, just look at those bonus checks going out. The cost of the bailouts was a 13 Trillion dollar debt, and the loss of the middle class of this nation. Seems the cure was worse than the disease"

    Yeah, and did you say the same thing when Bush was giving tax breaks to the rich????

    December 22, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA December 22nd, 2009 12:45 pm ET

    Cleaning up the Bush mess won't be done in a year.

    You know, I get a chuckle when i read things to the effect of "the root of the word progressive is progress"... yet progressives always take the regressive stance of looking back. Pathetic.

    P.S. If the opposite of "pro" is "con", is the opposite of "progress" therefore "congress"?

    December 22, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Four and The Door

    How can this be? If you listen to Vice president Joe Biden, the Stimulus bill has been a wonderful success and boom times are back!

    December 22, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. GOP

    Even God can not clean up the 8 straight years of damage done on the US economy by the Bush administration.

    December 22, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    If changing ones economic conditions requires going back to school, then do it and some may find it necessary to relocate. Being positive and responsible for ones own outcome in life is more important today and in the future than ever before. The bar is raising higher, be prepared.

    December 22, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. mjm

    What? You mean spending 3-4 trillion in less than 1 year didn't do the trick?

    Surely spending over $800 billion on some kind of "reform" associated with health care should work like a charm.

    Wait until cap-and-trade ticks in! That 'ought to create OR save 6 hundred billion jobs....give or take a few.

    Bush's fault....right?

    December 22, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    Pretty nice and sober way to say it. Down 13 points from last time but is still at a stomping 80%. Very nice way to say it, by the way.

    There's so many varibales involved, so many. It ain't no joke but do people listen? Are the media helping? Is the news helping? I know the answer but do YOU?

    That's interesting, African-Americans feel that they have it tough than anyone else. Pretty much 50-50 but is still a big number. I wonder how Latinos feel? But anyway, is still what it is.

    REAL America doesn't care about momentum or what news makers can do to make their networks feel like they'r ehelping by covering issues. It doesn't help when YOU have a one hr show describing how your life situation can change to the benefit of yourself. Or talk about some stupid issue and overrated issue like Afghan when it comes to protecting our own people, or should I say, our own selfish and desires.

    It is what it is, what are YOU gonna do about it? Don't look at me, don't make me embarrass you, a lonely, undeducated, unreliable, etc guy.

    This is America, and people feel nothing hasn't been done. Those are the facts, can't argue with the facts, oh well. Enjoy your job and your situation, be grateful and "happy." 🙂

    Like you guys care, this is caring by the way...F- You!!!

    You see, I care and it feels sooooo good when you've been right all along, 🙂

    December 22, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Now the media is charged with the task of making the people of America the idea that the healthcare is the best thing since sliced bread."

    Don't be an idiot. The "news" media's "job" is to make everything appear as controversial as possible because controversy sells and their boss is the advertising industry. This is why Faux News gets away with what they's insanely controversial to lie outright and call yourself a news station, but nobody minds because the people who watch it are getting told what they want to hear and everyone else is ignoring it. Places like CNN do it a little different...they don't lie outright per se...they just fail to tell the truth, or at least the whole truth, or fail to give us all the facts, so that the "controversy" doesn't get dispelled by rational thinking and instead is inflamed by ideological, emotional thinking. Take for example the "controversy" about "Climategate" that Campbell Brown jammed up everyone's bum for a week and a half: that was just her and her show pretending there was something that really needed to be discussed, instead of doing the real journalist's job of advocating truth and fact and empirical scientific evidence so we have an educated public...not a populcae full of people who runs around thinking that whether water is wet is a gray issue.

    December 22, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  15. Ron

    Amazing at the hatred of people who actually work and make a living. "Those evil rich.......". Fact is business is the core of this economy and only private business can grow an economy. Hurt business (as Obama is doing) and you hurt the economy. Obama is doing everything he can to hurt business and then, in his next breath, states jobs will be created? How? Why? Why would a businessman consider expanding his work force or company when Obama promises to RAISE his taxes and costs? Fact is anybody who ever took a basic Economics class knows that when times are bad you LOWER taxes and incentivize business but Obama is doing just the opposite (intentionally.....). Look for the economy to continue its decline which Obama is doing on purpose. The more you must rely on government to stronger he believes his power. He is a narcisist. Grow business and you grow the economy. Plain and simple.

    December 22, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. Brian from NJ

    I am so tired of Democrats blaming all of this on Bush. If you look at the record you will see that he was far from the only one responsible for this mess we're in:

    – Expanded the CRA and forced banks to take on more low income loans: CLINTON
    – Signed Bank deregulation repealing Glas-Steagall while ignoring pleas from Phil Gramm that not including mortgage reregulation could cause a financial meltdown: CLINTON
    – Fought derivatives deregualtion: ROBERT RUBIN and GREENSPAN
    – Made $50M while cooking the books at Fannie: FRANKLIN RAINES
    – Pushed Citi to take more risk while making $163M: ROBERT RUBIN
    – Ignored 35 pleas from Bush to fix the Fannie and Freddie regulation: CONGRESSIONSAL DEMOCRATS (how's that for obstricting reform, huh Liberqals?)
    – Was chair of the Senate Banking Committee while he took sweetheart deals from subprime leader Countrywide: RICHARD DODD
    – Handed Bush a recession after the Tech Stock bubble burst: CLINTON

    We can go on, but this was NOT all Bush's fault... the Democrats had just as much, if not more, to do with this.

    December 22, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "Soon everyone will be wearing black berets with red stars on them and we'll start rounding up the "less than progressive" among us and herding them into the reeducation camps."

    Really? When did the vote go down? I was soooo hoping for tinfoil hats with springy antennae topped by red plastic stars. It's so not fair that the conservatives are the only ones who get to wear them...

    December 22, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. Bruce Turner

    Who cares what we think?

    December 22, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. Bruce Turner

    Hey, Dutch from VA,we will just tell our grand children how the clueless cleaned up the 'Bush mess' with their future and our dollars.

    December 22, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Mike in MN

    What most economists have been saying all along it that the Obama administration has been over estimating how strong the economy will rebound. Weaker growth means less goverment tax revenue and higher deficits along with higher unempolyment. The deficits are already far far too high and are a bigger priority to voters than health care reform or global warming. Obama's overestimate of the stimulus and its effect on enemplyment (said stimulus would hold it below 8% but went up to 10.2% and holding at 10%) shows he does not know what he is doing on the economy.
    Obama is leading us off the cliff, not to economic recovery.

    December 22, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. chubby

    8 out of 10 say the economy is poor and the liberals spin this as good news. Only with nobama in the White House. If President Bush was still president the lame brained media would be eating his lunch.

    December 22, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Carnell From The Motor City!

    Have I Ever Trusted Any Poll Coming From HypocriCNN...Hell No I Say! In Case You Didn't Quite Get What I Said, What I'm Saying Is That I Wouldn't Even Believe An HypocriCNN Poll (Or Any Other Poll For That Matter) With A Notary Stamp On It!

    December 22, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. scott

    How come most of the comments are in support of Obama. Clearly the majority of americans think the economy is in trouble. He missed on the unemployment issue with the corrupt stimulis program and he has continued to spend like a drunken sailor

    . He doesn't care about America. He just wants to promote the socialist agenda he belived in when he sat around getting high with Bill Ayers back in Chicago...

    December 22, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. mark

    If the GOP were in charge we would not be even close to this level of an economic play with socialism you get burned...

    December 22, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. Aspen Professor

    Ya just gotta love those media polls. A luke-warm response would be a disaster for the media ratings. The poll choice is careful to avoid that.

    The farmers in those "rural" areas know the price of milk and corn BUT come up a bit short on having a clue about our economy other than what they have been spoon fed by the right-wing extremist controlled Republicans. Most Americans do not know the details and could care less unless they are unemployed. If we eliminate the high-school dropouts from the unemployed number and the "normal" base of unemployement (4 – 5% are ALWAYS unemployed), then the 10% rate is not so bad. Not good, but not as bad as the number sounds.

    December 22, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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