NPR Poll: Voters Cautiously Optimistic About Economic Future


Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
National Public Radio

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Executive Summary

The latest bipartisan survey conducted for National Public Radio shows voters extremely negative about the current state of the economy, but cautiously optimistic about the year ahead. These results are based on a survey conducted together with Public Opinion Strategies for National Public Radio, neither of which is responsible for the conclusions described here.

Key Findings

Voters remain deeply pessimistic about the economy’s current state, with 91 percent rating the economy as “not so good” or “poor,” though the number saying “poor” has dropped from 66 to 49 percent since our last poll in March. The country is split on whether or not the economy has started to turn the corner: 36 percent say it has already hit bottom and is beginning to improve while 24 percent say it has hit bottom but is not yet getting better; 37 percent believe it will still get worse.

Though acutely aware of the country’s difficult economic times, voters are quite optimistic that things will improve in the longer term. Indeed, two-thirds of voters (67 percent) say that the economy will be better one year from now. They are slightly less optimistic about their own financial situation, with a 50 percent majority saying their family will be better off financially in a year’s time.

By nearly two-to-one voters place blame for the current state of the economy squarely on President Bush rather than President Obama (56 to 32 percent). Yet, Obama’s presidency will likely be judged on how well his policies lift the nation out of the current recession. For the time being voters are split on if Obama’s policies have helped avert a worse crisis or have run up the deficit without showing results (45 to 48 percent).

Beyond the economy, this poll found that voters favor the Democratic arguments over the Republican criticisms on the key issues of energy and health care. A Democratic statement on the need to pass reform to cut costs, guarantee coverage and take the power away from the health insurance companies defeats by 51 to 42 percent the Republican frame that health care reform will result in rationing, bust the budget and lead to a government takeover. And a Democratic message on the recent energy bill that focuses on getting America running on clean energy beats out the Republican frame which labels the bill a job-killing, hidden energy tax by a slightly larger 53 to 40 percent margin.

Methodology

These results are based on a bipartisan survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in conjunction with Public Opinion Strategies for National Public Radio. The survey fielded July 22-26, 2009 and was conducted among 850 likely voters nationwide. It has a margin of error of +/-3.4 percent. The results and broadcast can also be found at www.npr.org.