UTICA, N.Y.—The mood of Americans has fallen sharply this month as the economy becomes an even greater concern among likely voters deciding for whom to vote in the November presidential election – even as President George W. Bush’s job approval ratings hit a new record low of 21%, a new Reuters/Zogby telephone poll shows.
The Reuters/Zogby Index, which measures overall American confidence, has dropped to 89.7 from 96.3 in September, but remains above the all-time low of 87.7 that the Index hit in March. The Reuters/Zogby Index includes 10 poll questions that gauge perception of the state of the country and the economy. The telephone survey of 1,207 likely voters nationwide was conducted Oct. 9-12, as the U.S. stock market plunged late last week, but was completed before Monday’s stock rally. It carries a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.
Economy far outweighs other issues among likely voters as Presidential election nears
The economy is far and away the most important issue among likely voters in deciding for whom to vote in the November presidential election – 62% of likely voters now cite the economy as their top concern, up from 50% who said the same in September. No other issue even breaks double-digits.
That second-place issue, the War in Iraq, was identified as most important by just 9%. The threat of another attack on the United States (8%), healthcare (7%), the environment (2%), energy prices (2%), or immigration (2%), were also cited as the most important issue.
Likely voters give Democrat Barack Obama a 47% to 43% edge over Republican John McCain as the presidential candidate they believe can best manage the U.S. economy. This is a reversal from September’s survey, when McCain was preferred among likely voters 47% to 45% over Obama as the best candidate to manage the economy.
Dissatisfaction with U.S. economic policy increased again this month, with 92% of likely voters who now take a negative view the nation’s economic policy, up from 86% who said the same in September. Nearly two in three likely voters (65%) give U.S. economy a “poor” rating. This month’s survey also finds a majority of Americans now give their personal financial situation a negative rating (52%), an increase from 48% who described their financial situation as “fair” or “poor” last month.
Likely voters are even more pessimistic about the direction the county is heading this month, with three in four likely voters (75%) saying they now believe the county is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 66% who said the same in September. Just 18% believe the U.S. is headed in the right direction.
Strong majorities of Democrats (84%) and self-identified political independents (79%) continue to view the country as headed on the wrong track, while the attitude of Republicans has taken a sharply negative turn this month. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Republicans now believe the country is on the wrong track, compared to just 38% who said the same last month.
President Bush’s job approval marks hit a new record-low, while Congress sinks back to its previous record-low ratings
President Bush’s job approval ratings have hit a new record-low this month of 21%, surpassing his previous record-low approval of 23% in May. In September, 28% of likely voters rated the President’s job performance as “excellent” or “good.” Positive job ratings from fellow Republicans have fallen sharply from 61% in September to just 42% this month. Favorable ratings from Democrats now stand at 6%, while 15% of political independents give the President a positive job approval rating.
As the President’s job approval ratings hit a new record low, job performance ratings for Congress have again fallen to their previous record-low of 9% it slipped to in August. The Democratically-controlled Congress earns positive ratings from 13% of Democrats, a drop from 18% who said the same in September. Republican approval has also fallen to 6% from 10% who said the same last month, while Congressional job approval ratings from political independents held steady at 10%.