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Two in five Americans feel less secure financially in 2012

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NEW YORK, N.Y. – As the New Year dawns, it is a time when many look to the upcoming months full of optimism and hope.

NEW YORK, N.Y. – As the New Year dawns, it is a time when many look to the upcoming months full of optimism and hope. Unfortunately, when it comes to economic expectations this optimism may not be felt this year. When asked to compare to last year, just 14% of Americans say they feel more secure about their financial situation while two in five (41%) say they feel less secure and 41% say they feel the same as last year. At the end of 2010, one in five U.S. adults (19%) said they felt more secure while 42% felt less secure; 36% felt the same as the previous year.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,237 adults surveyed online between December 5 and 12, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

As this is an election year, it’s interesting to see how these feelings of security, or lack of it, break down by political party. Over half of Republicans (55%) say they feel less secure while 7% say they feel more secure. Democrats are slightly more optimistic about what the current year will hold as one in five (20%) feel more secure and 28% feel less secure; half (49%) of Democrats feel the same as last year. For Independents, over two in five (43%) feel less secure and 14% feel more secure.

A look at household finances
One in five Americans (19%) ended 2011 saying they expected their household’s financial condition to be better in the next six months, half (53%) believe it will remain the same and 28% believe it will be worse. Last January, as 2011 dawned, over one-quarter (27%) believed their household’s financial situation would be better in the coming six months, 27% believed it would be worse and under half (46%) believed it would be about the same.

Again, looking at political party, Republicans are more pessimistic than Democrats are about the coming six months. Just one in ten Republicans (9%) believes their household’s financial condition will be better compared to 30% of Democrats. Among Independents, one-third (33%) believe the financial condition of their household will be worse in the next six months while 17% believe it will be better.

President Obama’s handling of the economy
This year brings the presidential election and how people perceive President Obama’s handling of the economy will have a large impact on how he does in November. As 2011 ended, one-quarter of Americans (25%) gave the President positive ratings on his handling of the economy while 75% gave him negative ratings. In November, 22% gave President Obama positive marks while 78% gave him negative ones.

So What?
In 1992, as Bill Clinton was running for election, his campaign came up with the one mantra they would use throughout the general election โ€“ “it’s the economy, stupid.” The thought was that people were hurting and as long as the campaign could show their candidate had answers to help, they would prevail. They were right and it just proved something long known in politics โ€“ people vote with their wallets. This election will be more of the same and people are hurting. President Obama needs to shore up his economic approval number to have a chance of prevailing in the general election.

TABLE 1
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND
“Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?”

Base: All adults

2009

March
April
May
June
Aug
Sept
Nov
Dec

%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

POSITIVE (NET)
47
49
46
43
39
40
34
36

Excellent
13
13
10
3
9
7
6
6

Pretty good
34
36
36
34
31
33
27
30

NEGATIVE (NET)
53
51
54
57
61
60
66
64

Only fair
30
27
30
27
25
27
30
30

Poor
23
24
24
30
36
33
37
34

2010

Jan
Mar
Apr
May
June
Aug
Sept
Oct
Nov
Dec

%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

POSITIVE (NET)
31
32
33
36
32
32
29
27
31
30

Excellent
5
5
6
6
5
6
5
5
5
5

Pretty good
25
27
27
30
27
26
24
22
26
25

NEGATIVE (NET)
69
68
67
64
68
68
71
73
69
70

Only fair
31
30
31
29
32
29
31
33
30
34

Poor
39
37
36
34
37
39
40
39
39
36

2011

Jan
Feb*
Mar
May
June
July
Sept.
Oct.
Nov.
Dec.

%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

POSITIVE (NET)
33
33
33
32
27
26
21
23
22
25

Excellent
7
9
5
7
5
3
2
3
3
4

Pretty good
26
24
28
26
22
23
18
20
20
22

NEGATIVE (NET)
67
62
67
68
73
74
79
77
78
75

Only fair
30
22
29
28
30
33
33
36
32
34

Poor
37
39
38
40
43
41
46
41
46
41

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; *In February “Not at all sure” was offered as a response choice and 4% responded in that way.

TABLE 2
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY โ€“ BY POLITICAL PARTY
“Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?”

Base: All adults

Total
Political Party
Philosophy

Rep.
Dem.
Ind.
Cons.
Mod.
Lib.

%
%
%
%
%
%
%

POSITIVE (NET)
25
3
48
23
9
28
42

Excellent
4
*
7
2
1
4
6

Pretty good
22
3
40
21
8
24
36

NEGATIVE (NET)
75
97
52
77
91
72
58

Only fair
34
19
41
36
18
39
44

Poor
41
77
11
41
73
33
14

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; * indicates less than .05%

TABLE 3
FINANCIAL SECURITY
“Compared to last year, how secure do you feel about your financial situation?”

Base: All adults

Total
Political Affiliation
Generation

Rep.
Dem.
Ind.
Echo Boomers

(18-34)
Gen. X

(35-46)
Baby Boomers

(47-65)
Matures

(66+)

%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

MORE SECURE (NET)
14
7
20
14
17
15
15
8

Much more secure
3
1
5
2
4
2
2
2

Somewhat more secure
12
7
16
12
13
13
12
6

Same as last year
41
35
49
39
41
45
39
39

LESS SECURE (NET)
41
55
28
43
34
37
45
52

Somewhat less secure
21
28
16
21
19
20
21
28

Much less secure
20
27
12
23
15
17
25
25

Not sure
3
3
2
3
8
2
1
*

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

Note: * indicates less than 0.5%

TABLE 4
FINANCIAL SECURITY – TREND
“Compared to last year, how secure do you feel about your financial situation?”

Base: All adults

2008
2009
2010
2011

%
%
%
%

MORE SECURE (NET)
21
12
19
14

Much more secure
4
3
5
3

Somewhat more secure
17
9
14
12

Same as last year
34
30
36
41

LESS SECURE (NET)
38
56
42
41

Somewhat less secure
24
33
23
21

Much less secure
14
23
20
20

Not sure
7
3
2
3

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

TABLE 5
PERSONAL FINANCIAL EXPECTATIONS FOR THE NEXT 6 MONTHS – TREND
“Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?”

Base: All adults

2008
2009

Feb
Mar
June
Nov
Jan
Mar
April
May
June
Aug
Sept
Oct
Nov
Dec

%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

BETTER (NET)
39
33
40
24
20
20
23
25
21
24
23
23
18
19

Will remain the same
28
28
25
43
48
46
46
45
45
48
48
45
47
48

WORSE (NET)
34
39
36
33
32
35
31
30
33
28
29
31
35
33

2010
2011

Jan
Mar
April
May
June
Aug
Sept
Oct
Jan
Dec

%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

BETTER (NET)
21
21
22
25
21
22
22
22
27
19

Will remain the same
49
47
50
47
52
52
50
49
46
53

WORSE (NET)
30
32
29
28
27
26
28
29
27
28

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 6
PERSONAL FINANCIAL EXPECTATIONS FOR THE NEXT 6 MONTHS โ€“ BY GENERATION AND POLITICAL PARTY
“Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?”

Base: All adults

Total
Generation
Political Party

Echo

Boomers

(18-34)
Gen X

(35-46)
Baby

Boomers

(47-65)
Matures

(66+)
Rep.
Dem.
Ind.

%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

BETTER (NET)
19
21
20
19
12
9
30
17

Will be much better
4
4
6
3
2
1
5
4

Will be somewhat better
15
17
15
16
10
8
24
13

Will remain the same
53
60
56
46
50
55
53
50

WORSE (NET)
28
18
24
35
37
36
17
33

Will be somewhat worse
20
13
16
23
29
28
11
23

Will be much worse
8
5
7
11
8
8
6
10

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.