CNN Poll: Are you better off than four years ago?
September 13th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
10 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. the_dude

    Even with their obvious left bias CNN can't produce a poll that paints ofailure in a positive light. Even with all their spin. Yes the Bush administration deserves a lot of the blame but we haven't even see ofailure even try to start a recovery. The only recovery that has happened has been for the wall st bankers and ofailures puppet handlers. The kool-aid drinkers will say we had a ecovery even if they had to eat garbage off the street.

    September 13, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. Nick-o

    winchester74 makes the most valid point I've ever read on the CNN blogosphere

    Numbers don't lie.
    Republicans do.

    September 13, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Truth Teller

    Lets see, 4 years ago we were in the Worst Real Estate Crash, 2nd Worst Stock Market Crash, Economy fell off a cliff, 750,000 people a month were losing their jobs, the Credit Markets were Frozen, and we were fighting 2 Wars on a Credit Card................Pretty sure EVERYONE is better off..............except Bin Laden and the Leadership of Al Queada and the Taliban

    September 13, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. James AL

    For all of you who think that President Obama should have fixed all the problems by now, I ask you to go back and remember what was happening just before he took the oath of office. Now take a look at all the leading indicators of our economy and if you are objective you will conclude we are definitely better off. Though we are better off, we are not where we should be, but the president is not to blame for that-republicans are.

    September 13, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. independent

    Don't you think your headline would be less misleading if you said, " fifty-four percent of Americans indicate that they are the same or better off than they were four years ago. A substantial forty-four percent felt they were worse off."

    September 13, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. FLINT

    Yes honestly I am better off presonaly. Is it becuase of Obama......I dont know. I am aware there is allot of people who arnt better off, and I do not blame people for being ubset about it. The cold reality is it varys on what state your from too. People also should take close look at there local goverments while voting as well, seeing Presidents deal with the Federal goverment, there is also local goverments aswell. One also most look at the congress and senate as well. So its a much bigger issue then who is the president, the president is not god or are all powerful.

    September 13, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Blaine

    Yes, the past balanced budget was under Clinton. Bush left a large deficit and it will take more than 4 years to fix the mess. Give Obama a 2nd term and if things are no better after than then he can be held at least partly responsible, but not at this stage after 4 short years. Also, his infrastructure spending on High Speed rail etc will bring the US into the modern era, it’s way past due.

    Did a Republican ever produce a “balanced budget”?. It’s easy to say one thing in opposition then do the opposite when in power.

    September 13, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. Boris of New Jersey

    Will you be better off In 4 years if socialist is reelected ?
    Do really believe Obama's lies ?

    September 13, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. NameSpike

    Is this a joke?! NO!!! We are not better off then four years ago – jeez Louise man open your friggen eyes or stop doing drugs

    September 13, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. the_dude

    Yes Bush administration deserves a lot of the blame but after 4 years of ofailure we haven't even started a recovery. The only people that feel any sort of recovery are the crooks on wall st and corporate executives.....the same people ofailure promised to reign in. The question I ask myself is if ofailure will get around to the people some time in his next term or should we try someone else and keep replacing that person every 4 years until someone actually does something to benefit the people?

    September 13, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. unLogico

    I blame Obama for the economic crash that started in 2008. It was bc ppl knew he was potential contender that the bottom tanked out. obviously not the fault of our former beloved dear leader ******. four short yrs later, things arent much better,but Its so easy to blame the symptom and not the original problem so fck it. blame the non american socialist muslim that is hell bent in destroying our beutiful Amrrica. its just easier that way

    September 13, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  12. Boto

    Yes I am. Both mine and my wife's job are secure. My investments have recovered everything that was lost during the Bush years. I am a Republican that will vote for Obama. I think Romney would drive us into the ditch again.

    September 13, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. john

    Well, since you have been ignoring the JOB market stats all day since the do not favor Obama, claims are up folks, you have to go search for it. Then they blame it on a very short lived hurricane, Nice try but no go. The answer is NO we are not better off. Illinois had more foreclosures than every before last month. Does that sound like there are jobs?

    September 13, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. Bookenz

    I'm happier than I was 4 years ago.

    September 13, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. CaesarXIII

    News Alert for all Democrats. Bush is no longer the President and has been out of office for 4 years. Thank you and welcome to the year 2012... Actually find something else to complain about cause its old and makes you sound like a complete retard.

    September 13, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. George

    With rayan cuts to everything even pot holes.
    Will u be better off.

    This so so so dumb for what they want and ask this question. Cut police better not u are going to need them. Cut firemen cut cut every dam thing
    Will u be better off. Get real'nnnb

    September 13, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  17. SokrMom

    Even though we all know Bush caused us to be in this mess, the President has a pretty hard task to prove the negative. We could have been in a position so much worse than we are, and the fact that we are not is largely due to Barack Obama, and his advisors. Unfortunately, the one thing that would certainly demonstrate this for the many Americans who do not understand economics is if the GOP and the Tea Party were to win in November and try to implement their misguided austerity policies–in which case the U.S. would go straight into recession again, and unemployment would begin to rise again. And since the GOP never admits it is wrong and changes course, we could rapidly fall right back to the darkest days of the recession.

    September 13, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. Fred Phred

    Last I checked my 401k has just about doubled in the past 4 years, along with the DJIA.

    I just refinanced my house at 2.8% and saved another $250 a month.

    Do I really want to change the course back to the GWB days?

    September 13, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. Steve

    Maybe the question should have been, "Why would the Republicans stop a Jobs Bill?" Why, indeed. Since all they have ever wanted was to limit Obama to one term, so that they could get back in power. Too bad they never of thought of doing what was in the best interests of the United States.

    September 13, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    America has added 4.5 million private sector jobs since the Obama took office
    Stock market soaring at 13,500.00, which has saved peoples 401K
    Here’s what Bush freefall left us yes America is better off today!

    Aug 2008 – 334,000 net JOBS LOST
    Sep 2008 – 458,000 net JOBS LOST
    Oct 2008 – 554,000 net JOBS LOST
    Nov 2008 – 728,000 net JOBS LOST
    Dec 2008 – 673,000 net JOBS LOST
    Jan 2009 – 779,000 net JOBS LOST

    September 13, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. msjt1952

    Who are these people that you're surveying ? No one has ever asked me or anyone I know for input into these surveys. I know alot of people no one has been asked on the phone, in-person or any where else I think you people ask your family where you have already given them the answer that you want. I'm 60 years old I have opinions and lots of thoughts.

    September 13, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. the Boss

    Four years ago we were on the brink of another Great Depression. Better off now? Yes.

    September 13, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. Brian

    obviously not, or the FED wouldn't be trying so hard to boost it right before election. Talk about shameless. If they really want to, why waited so long to help out folks who have been suffering all 4 years of Obama's term.

    September 13, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Cogsboy

    Did people think they can wish away a bad economy in less than 4 years? What I find hilarious is that the GOP are recycling Reagan's quip on how we're doing.

    Ironically, the ones who got us in this mess (Wall Street) are doing better now than 4 years ago!!

    September 13, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. 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), and they still control the Senate. If people want to criticize the current Republican House of Representatives for the past two years, then we must surely blame Representative Pelosi and her colleagues for the prior four years.

    September 13, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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