January 27th, 2010
11:00 AM ET
13 years ago

CNN Poll: Most say worst economic conditions in a lifetime

Washington (CNN) - More than three-quarters of Americans said that the current economic conditions are the worst that they've ever lived through, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday, hours before President Obama delivers his first State of the Union address, indicated that 77 percent of the public feels that the rough economic times the country's currently facing are the worst in their lifetime, while 22 percent said they've lived through worse times.

According to the poll, the economy remains the number-one issue on the public's mind, and six in ten Americans said it is extremely important for the president and Congress to deal with the economy this year.

"That's one reason why Barack Obama's State of the Union speech is likely to focus on the economy," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The belief that the economy is extremely important is the same among high-income Americans and low-income Americans. And income does not affect your view of economic conditions - high-income Americans are just as likely as low-income Americans to say that this is the worst economy they have ever lived through."

 Two-thirds of those questioned said that things are going badly in the country today, but that's an improvement over a year ago when 79 percent thought the country was in bad shape

"One bright spot: although most say that the country is in bad shape, three-quarters said things are going well in their personal lives," Holland added.

One in eight think the economy is starting to recover; nearly half think a recovery has not started but that things have stabilized and four in 10 said the country is still in a downturn.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 22-24, with 1,009 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

 - CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: CNN poll • Economy
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Ken

    Don't worry America. Obama will make a speech. Then he will promise a token cut in spending, maybe offering to FREEZE the 16% of the budget that is discretionary spending (that was budgeted to go down, but this way he can keep spending as high as possible while fooling the small group of people that can be fooled all of the time), and then he will offer some tax payer funded freebies to purchase votes from those who do not know any better.

    The one thing we will not hear is aggressive and meaningful cuts in the noose around our necks – government spending.

    January 27, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. wardlaw

    Most people don't know the difference between TARP and stimulus. They think that Obama bailed out the banks. It was Paulsen and Bush, and it saved us from a total depression. They also don't know the difference between debt and deficit. Yes, even you, and your reporters keep calling deficit debt. The president inherited a ten trillion dollar debt, created by Reagan,Bush, and Bush. Clinton left a surplus. With out saving the banks, jobs will never happen. Tea parties are a joke, everybody has their own little issue. Combine them, blame Obama, and block his efforts in Massachusetts.

    January 27, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. MarkE

    If the Obama administration and the Democratic majority do as good a job crafting Economic legislation as they did HealthCare legislation, we're in BIG trouble....

    January 27, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Who said the Mayans were wrong?

    They havent seen anything yet,wait till the republicans get back in and finish off the middle class and the world.

    January 27, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Dimslie

    Yes, it's what we call "change".

    January 27, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. Tom

    The Nation is struggling right now – and the last thing we need is for the President to *fake* a financially conservative stance. Through his actions, and those of his appointees, he made it very clear to the voters that he favors big government. He needs to demonstrate fiscal responsibility through his actions if he wants to save his party. The debt has never been higher than during his watch! It's worse than it was even under the former president, and Obama has only been at it a year now! This isn't something he simply inherited; he's driven it up far higher. I cannot help but feel betrayed here in the worse way. Socialism doesn't work Mr. President, please listen to the nation and put the brakes on your agenda.

    January 27, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  7. Will

    Not a surprise. Whats amazing is it has taken this long for the White House to get it and focus on the economy and jobs. Obama is so out of touch with me and most independents its amazing. We will see by his actions not his political spin and ambiguous speeches if he is serious about positive change for the country.

    January 27, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Mark

    And what does Obama want to do to create jobs? Cut funding to the manned space program Constellation and outsource manned space flight to other countries.

    How many engineering jobs, manufacturing jobs and proxiy jobs will be lost by his actions?

    January 27, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. SocialismBad

    If you think it's bad now, just wait. If the Democrats keep spending us into financial ruin, the Great Depression will look like a cake walk!

    Thank God Mr. 41 got elected in Mass. because that MAY slow or halt the insanity. Our only hope of salvation comes this November when the Democrats get swept out with the trash and we elect fiscal conservatives.

    January 27, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. OldUncleTom

    Housing killed us... but housing can't make us well. When we learn that, we will begin to recover more rapidly.

    I suspect we will not rise as rapidly as we fell, because the mindless consumption that inflated the bubble is unlikely to return soon. Many who endured the Depression never felt truly secure again afterward, and I suspect that as we are a good deal more delicate than our ancestors, many of us will not completely recover from this smaller downturn.

    January 27, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Oh yes it is bad, but we have not even started, the double dip has yet to come. IMHO the real bad times are coming 3rd quarter 2011. The Stimulas will be gone and our debt will come due. Who is going to loan the USA the 16 trillion it will need to pay at this time? Even Warren Buffit and Bill Gates together can not pay the Federal Governments credit card bill.
    Starting now the Congress needs to cut three to five trillion in spending. Sorry we can not have the Federal Reserve Bank print any more money out of thin air, the US dollar is already at the lowest value in history. And sorry to the current congress and president but you 250 Billion dollar spending freeze is not going to help either.

    January 27, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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