For several months, it seemed that news stories more and more were persuading us that genuine economic recovery was well underway. Whatever hope that gave the public has melted in the heat of the summer. This is bad news for political leaders like President Barack Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It's also bad for average Americans. They're the ones actually living out this prolonged nightmare.
I conducted my own Towery Poll of 768 registered voters nationwide on June 9 and June 10. The question was simple:
"What is your opinion of the current status of the U.S. economy?"
Thirty-three percent said it was improving; 26 percent said it has remained "about the same;" and 37 percent said it was declining. The rest were undecided. The poll was weighted for age, race, gender and political affiliation, and had a margin of error of 3.6 percent.
Most telling in this survey was that, for the most part, only those who identified themselves as Democrats believed the economy was improving. Fifty percent of Republicans said the economy was declining and -- more importantly -- 46 percent of independent voters agreed. Very few among these two political groups felt things were getting better.
With news of continued sagging sales in the housing arena, a continued high unemployment rate, and anxiety over wage and job security, these poll findings should surprise no one. Well, no one except maybe the political elites in Washington and the out-of-touch financial crowd on Wall Street. They still don't seem to comprehend that "Main Street" people continue to struggle. Regular Joes and Janes are wondering if anyone can get a handle on what clearly remains a global economic slide.
Don't believe my poll? Then consider a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted in late June. It asked a slightly different question: Where might the economy be 12 months from now?
Twenty-three percent said it would get worse; 43 percent said it would stay about the same; 33 percent said it would get better. Notice that 33 percent number for those who are optimistic about the economy matches the 33 percent in my poll who said the economy was improving.
Let's face it: We are a year-and-a-half into the Obama administration, and less than a third of the country believes the economy is now or will be improving in the next year. These numbers are a political disaster for the Democrats because it's mostly only partisan Democrats who display any optimism.
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