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. Chester

    Hell Yes I recall how many time I was out of work asking myself how I was going to pay the bills, eat and feed the family, could not driver the car, did not have any money for gas. How may nights I went to sleep with out eating. If you stand here and say no you are not better off then you did not have hard times in the first place. Try gong to sleep with out eating no heat for the house, man I can go on and on. Well I am happy to day those days are behind me, but if we go back to the Mitt was I can see myself hurting again. Man I do not ever want to go through that again. To watch the eat have enough to eat or you go with out to make sure they eat. HELL YES I am better off.

    September 13, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. Smeagel4T

    Definitely better off today. In 2009 we were losing 800K jobs/month. The Democrats almost immediately turned that number in 200K/month gains with the highly successful stimulous. The fall off in job gains started directly in response to the Republicans gaining sufficient control of the Senate to filibuster any new job creation efforts. Even since the Republican regained sufficient control of Congress to engage in full obstructionism, job growth has been about half what it was under Democratic control. No surprise there since the Democrats have consistently shown the ability to create twice as many jobs as Republicans over the last century. Bush's pre-recession monthly job creation numbers were about half what Obama's post-recession monthly job creation numbers have been.

    If you want somebody who'll create more jobs overseas while destroying Medicare and raising taxes on the miiddle class in order to transfer more wealth to himself and his wealthy buddies, Romney's your man.

    September 13, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Aaron

    I never understood the question. Am I better off – it depends on who you ask. How can you say the rich are not more better off then the poor? Stocks are at 4 year highs, yet federal minimum wage hasn't changed in 5 years.

    When I look at Romney and Obama, you know what I see? More of the same. No matter who wins, the opposing party in congress will deadlock any decent laws. Republicans lost the meaning of compromise, democrats are on their way there.

    We can play the blame game all day here, but in the end – everyone has some kind of fault. Romney is just playing the card instead of talking about policy. More of the same.

    What we need is someone who isn't a puppet to big companies and lobbyists.

    September 13, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. John Jarreau

    If you are talking about 4 years to the day when the home mortgage crisis was brewing, yes much better under President Obama!

    September 13, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  5. Yes I am....

    I have a good paying job and I've gotten a raise the past 3 years, so YES I am better off!!!

    September 13, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. ObjectiveGuy

    There is just way too much flip-flopping from the Democrats on this issue to let it go without a comment. First, the Dems say that the president isn't responsible for the economy and the unemployment, it is congress. Then, they turn around and blame Bush for TODAY'S economy. Isn't that just a little bit of a contradiction, and just another way for Obama to keep passing the buck after four years in the WH? Further, if congress is mostly responsible, then it is noteworthy that the Dems held a majority in both the House and Senate for Bush's last four years, and held a majority in both the House and Senate for Obama's first two years. It has only been the past less than two years that the Republicans have controlled the House, although the Democrats still control the Senate, and the White House. Further, what kind of a spineless wuss is Obama that he can't man-up enough to take responsibility that he has not moved the needle on the economy in four LONG years??? Currently, under Obama's stewardship of the economy, we are teetering toward a triple dip recession. Unemployment is at historically high levels for this duration of time, with no light at the end of the tunnel. And, we are trillion$ of dollars more in debt, with absolutely nothing to show for it, and then Obama announced yet another bailout today (too little, too ineffective, too costly, and too late). And the oh-so-sweet irony of it all is that the GWB economic meltdown, which has continued to be the Obama economic meltdown, was caused by none other than Bill Clinton, who is Obama's arch-nemesis. Clinton's Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac "give a mortgage to anyone who asks for it, with no proof of income, and no way to afford it" program ultimately imploded, just as GWB always said it would, but couldn't get the Dem controlled congress to overturn it. Obama will not survive the economic issues, and it will be the main cause of his loss to Romney in November. At least Romney knows what to do to fix the economy, so we will be able to get this country moving forward once again.

    September 13, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. TC

    Wait till all that fake stimulus money needs to be repaid. Call me , then we can figure out how to by a box of kleenex with the two nickles we may have let to rub. This president is spending money that is not there. Do you all realize that. If you don't have the money to buy that new car you don't buy it. I can't believe how stupid the people on this site are. It's mind boggling on how this country got this far with the brain surgeons on this site.

    September 13, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. JGG

    NEWS FLASH.... W BUSH left office 3 1/2 Years ago!

    September 13, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  9. Paul_I

    Four years ago, we did not know just how bad off we were. It was just about this time that Lehman imploded and we first heard that the world's financial infrastructure was about to implode. Within a week, we had images of McCain sitting at the table looking like a deer in headlights that pretty much sank his campaign.

    September 13, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Mensaman

    Obama has called his voters "useful idi@ts" I can see what he means in some cases where they actually believe that they are better off, and continue to blame Bush. Look, the media has been running defence for Obama for four years. In four years he has not solved the problem. Bernanke keeps giving us QE1,2,3, solutions which only devalue our dollar. Sure the market goes up but only because it takes more dollars to buy anything.
    It's harder to vote for the guy who says, hey we have to tighten our belts, while Obama is handing out free stuff all over the place in exchange for votes. We are in deep trouble and we need a fix and Obama can't do it. It's the Makers vs the Takers and the Takers will vote Obama and America will go down like Greece. That's what will happen and that's what I am preparing for. Obama made lofty promises and didn't keep them and foolish people will elect him again and be disappointed again and that's the definition of insanity – doing the same thing and expecting a different result. God help America if he's re-elected.

    September 13, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Tigist

    What kind of question is this ?and I am so sorry for GOP people asking this at this time. and shame on them. we are adults and know what is better for us. Honestly speaking , if they need to ask themselves badly because this is like asking first grader ? We put you in to this mess and do not you like it to continue? we are better than four years ago. ....who put us in to his mess after all?? we are adults and know what is better for us. Honestly speaking , Yes, Obama is doing better than what it was but still needs to do more. I am Ethio-american and not favoring any of them but I speak from my gut not being emotional. If I get a chance, I would help Obama to be re-elected .

    September 13, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. Tony in ST. Louis

    I have a 401K again! Yes, I am!

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

    If more Americans had family members serving in the military the numbers of "better off" would go up big time. With less than 1% now serving there are fewer to be elated that the POTUS fulfilled his promise to end the war in Iraq. That is a feeling that no Romney can ever have as they are a family of cowardly no-servering "we supportort the war" boys. We can include lil Paulie Ryan in that sleazy group. The wealthy are making money head over heel. Bankers are refinancing mortgages at record pace as money is so cheap. They don't think they are better off, they know it. I am a Vietnam era U.S. Army vet son of a Second World War ll combat vet whose brother served in Korea, and had 3 bros-in-law that served in WW ll. If I had a son that had just recently returned from Iraq I would feel better off even if I were making less or were unemployed. What just exactly is the monetary value placed on a son or daughter in uniform serving in wartime? A hell of a lot in my value system. Mittens, who fled to France in '66-'68, didn't even have the decency to mention our troops much less thank them. I suppose that if I had five, that's FIVE, sons who were as cowardly as my father and me, I would not mention troops serving in the Afghanistan War either. What major player in the lil GOP, other than lame brained McCain of Palin fame, has served and has a son that is. The GOP is disgusting when it comes to showing. They talk the talk, but can't to walk the walk. Can't cut it. Check 'em out and you will see a list of chickenhawks a mile long.

    September 13, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. Jeff S

    Yep we are better. 4 years ago the economy was collapsing. Have things completely returned to where they were 8 years ago? No. But we are better off now than we were 4 years ago.

    September 13, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. hkhuma

    The real problem is Chiana that takes most of the jobs from America.
    Who signs the free trade agreement?

    September 13, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Job

    ...and if you are not better off than 4 years ago, it isn't Obama's fault. Look elsewhere.

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

    Lois: Bush also had gas @ $4.50, but the president has little to do with this anyway. Also, we are exporting MORE than importing for the first time in decades. Off shore drilling is at an alltime high. Do some research!

    September 13, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  18. Paul

    lol President Bush got the price of gas down alright. He crashed the economy so that there was no more demand. Silly Republicans and you lies.

    September 13, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. joe

    The wealth gap is increasing and most people on CNN are saying we are better off. The only conclusion is the wealth gap is a good thing.

    September 13, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  20. mcfarlas47

    For those who say they are better off, I ask how about your children? Do you care that we are saddling them with a debt that will drag them down for their entire lives, and the lives of their children as well? How is our debt going to get paid???

    September 13, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  21. xfiler93

    Amazing CNN is putting this out. The MSM is very much into trying to shield the man child incompetent right now. With Middle East in flames, he is unsure if Egypt is an ally or not....he is seems lost and blames Romney!

    September 13, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. Hope and Change

    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?

    Yes I feel the hope. Yes I feel the change. Yes it is for the better.

    Just checked my stock portfolio, and honestly I have made over $500,000 since Obama became president. The stock market has doubled and things couldn't be better.

    Bush left one big hoking mess, for sure. Romney is droning on and on about how Obama has not been able to clean up the crap hole Bush left in 3-1/2 years. Romney has said that he actually has a 5-point plan to "fix" everything by the end of his second term. Seriously! Romney is blaming Obama for not cleaning up Bush's mess in less than half the time that Romney has proposed that he can do the job. Only in America would so many people be stupid enough to vote for a guy like Romney. He thinks he's actually going to lower the deficit by reducing revenues. What a freaking idiot!

    I HOPE that when Obama handily beats Mitt Flippin Romney in November that all the Obama haters will CHANGE their country of residence. If you don't like this country for whatever reason, please do the rest of us a favor and shut the crap up and just self deport to the country of your choice. That is the one plan of Romney's that I do like. Self deportation. It's just that I would have the haters be the ones to go: starting with Romney himself. After he loses the election, Romney should move overseas. He could sit in a bank vault in his country of choice and count his millions over and over and dream of what could have been if only Americans were actually as stupid as he thought we were and if only his money could buy the election like he thought it could.

    September 13, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  23. greg

    No we are not better off still on average for my wife and I WE ARE STILL 13000 DOLLARS behind in income.

    September 13, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. Amira

    Yes, as a household we very much are better off.

    Jobs are still harder to come by for the younger generation (our 20 something children), but they are now out there.

    September 13, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Dan

    There's been no hope, there's been no change. Only blame. Don't say looking forward when all you talk about is the past. Four years to change something and if you don't, time to walk, less talk about Bush now. I don't get it when people don't hold our politicians to their promises. It's not a Democrat or Republican issue, it's a credibilty issue. What did the president promise to do for us? He was to Junior to recognize what he was promising us was impossible. Do we blame Bush for that? I can't vote for R but this is BS when people talk within political lines. We're Americans, enough. I wish you the best!

    September 13, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
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