Plurality Of Americans Say They’re Worse Off Since Obama Took Office
Are you better off than you were three years ago? 44% of Americans say no.
On October 28, 1980, President Jimmy Carter and his opponent, Ronald Reagan, met in their one and only debate of the 1980 election, and Reagan asked this question:
For large numbers of Americans, the answer was clearly no. In the four years since Carter had taken office, the economy had been put through the ringer thanks to the massive price inflation, a stagnant economy, and persistently unstable energy prices. On the foreign policy front, the nation was being humiliated by a hostage crisis in Iran that had lasted nearly a year with no end in sight, and blatant Soviet expansionism into Afghanistan. When Americans walked into the polling booth on November 4th, they answered Reagan’s with a resounding no.
According to a new Bloomberg poll, a growing number of Americans are answering Reagan’s question the same way with regard to the current occupant of the White House:
Two years after the official start of the recovery, the American people remain pessimistic about their current economic circumstances and longer-term prospects.
Fewer than a quarter of people see signs of improvement in the economy, and two-thirds say they believe the country is on the wrong track overall, according to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted June 17-20.
“Gas prices are higher, grocery prices are higher, transportation prices are higher,” says poll respondent Ronda Brockway, 54, an insurance company manager and political independent who lives in a suburb of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “The jobs situation nationwide is very poor.”
By a 44 percent to 34 percent margin, Americans say they believe they are worse off than when President Barack Obama took office in early 2009, when the U.S. was in the depths of a recession compounded by the September 2008 financial crisis and the economy was losing as many as 820,000 jobs a month.
The gloom covers the immediate future, with fewer than 1 in 10 people expecting unemployment to return to pre-recession levels within the next two years, and it extends to the next generation. More than half of respondents say their children are destined to have a lower standard of living than they do, upending a traditional touchstone of the American Dream.
This is hardly surprising, actually. Economic pessimism remains very high. One recent poll showed that 48% of the public believe it’s possible we’ll be in a Great Depression within a year. And, earlier this month a survey showed that the vast majority of Americans believed that their family income will drop over the next several years. Finally, there’s the bellwether right track/wrong track poll, which has never really recovered from the chasm that developed during the 2008 economic crisis, and now seems to show a trend toward increasing belief that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Added into this, there’s the fact that the President’s job approval rating have, notwithstanding a bounce up after the death of Osama bin Laden. retreated yet again largely because of the poor grades that voters are giving the President on the economy:
Right now, if the right Republican candidate were to ask voters Reagan’s famous question it’s fairly clear that the answer from many people would be no, and that can’t be good for the President.