Americans’ impressions of the nation’s economy remain gloomy and broad majorities think the federal government has done too little to try to solve problems with the nation’s supply chain and rising inflation, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.
All told, three-quarters say they are worried about the state of the economy in their own community (75%) and 63% say the nation’s economy is in poor shape. Nearly 6 in 10 (57%) say that the economic news they’ve heard lately has been mostly bad, with just 19% saying they are hearing mostly good news about the economy right now.
Asked to rate the severity of seven issues affecting the economy recently, about 8 in 10 say the rising cost of food and other everyday items (80%), the disruption in the nation’s supply chain (79%), and the rising cost of housing (77%) are major problems for the nation’s economy. Seventy percent see the rising cost of gas as a major problem, and 67% each say labor shortages and government spending are major issues. A similar 65% call the coronavirus pandemic a major problem for the country’s economy.
Few see President Joe Biden’s policies as having a positive impact on economic conditions (30%), while nearly half (45%) say his policies have worsened the economy, and a quarter say they’ve had no impact. And 54% disapprove of the way he’s handling the economy generally, up five points since late summer, with a matching 54% now disapproving of how he’s handling helping the middle class.
At roughly the same point in Barack Obama’s presidency in 2009, when the unemployment rate was more than double its current level but inflation was less of an issue, reviews of his impact on the economy were more positive, with 36% saying his work had improved economic conditions and 28% saying they had worsened them.
The new poll finds roughly two-thirds (66%) have doubts and reservations about Biden’s leadership, including 92% of Republicans, 75% of independents and 36% of Democrats. Still, Biden’s overall approval holds about even at 49% approve to 51% disapprove. Those approval ratings are similar to recent polls from AP-NORC and Reuters/Ipsos.
Those two polls plus CNN’s latest were conducted primarily online. Other recent public polling, largely conducted by telephone, has shown Biden faring worse on approval, with a larger share of the population undecided on how they feel about him, even as the share who disapprove is about the same across polls. A CNN Poll of Polls incorporating the five public polls of adults conducted in December shows Biden holding an average approval rating of 45%, with 50% disapproving.
As in last month’s CNN poll, the December survey finds a little more than twice as many Americans say they strongly disapprove of Biden’s work as president (34%) as those who say they strongly approve (16%).
It is also notable that Biden’s approval ratings for handling foreign affairs (47%), the economy (45%), helping the middle class (45%) and immigration (40%) all stand below his overall approval number. The only issue tested where his rating exceeds his overall reviews is his handling of the coronavirus pandemic (54% approve).
Americans broadly want more government action to counteract economic problems: About 7 in 10 each say the US government is doing too little to reduce inflation (72%) or relieve disruptions in the supply chain (70%), including majorities across parties who feel that way. By contrast, only 34% say the government is doing too little to control the spread of coronavirus.
On the personal side of the economy, 33% say their financial situation is worse off now than a year ago, while only 21% say their financial fortunes have improved. Those views are deeply partisan, but even among Democrats, only 31% say they are better off now. In January 2018, a year into former President Donald Trump’s time in office, 47% of all adults said they were better off.
About 3 in 10 say they worry most or all of the time that their family’s income will not be enough to cover expenses and bills, a figure that rises to 54% among those who say their financial situation has worsened in the last year compared with less than 20% among those who say they are better off or about the same as a year ago.
Supply chain issues and rising prices have affected a majority of Americans, according to the poll, with 69% saying they have been unable to find an item they were trying to buy, 57% experiencing significant delays in receiving a purchased item, and 54% reporting that they have changed the groceries they buy in order to stay within budget. Fewer say they have cut back significantly on driving (43%), changed where they shop (39%) or had difficulty finding affordable housing (26%).
There’s been a slight rebound in views of how things are going in the country generally, with 38% saying things are going well and 62% badly. In late summer, 69% said things in the US were going badly. The shift here comes primarily among Democrats, with the share saying things are going well up 10 points to 63% over that time.
At the same time, Americans’ worries about the risk of crime remain high (59% are very or somewhat worried about crime in their communities), and few think the federal government is doing enough to try to reduce the rate of violent crime in the country. And although overall worries are holding about even, the issue is becoming increasingly polarized. While Republican concerns about the risk of crime in their local community have climbed from 53% in late summer to 72% in the new poll, they have dipped among Democrats, from 61% then to 55% now.
About three-quarters overall, 76%, say that the US government is doing too little to reduce the rate of violent crime, while just 19% say it’s doing the right amount. Nearly all Republicans agree that the government is doing too little (91%), but majorities of independents (71%) and Democrats (69%) agree.
The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS December 8 through 12 among a random national sample of 1,256 adults surveyed online or by phone after being recruited using probability-based methods. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. It is larger for subgroups.
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