Bloomberg poll finds Americans pessimistic about economy

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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The Democrats’ frequent claims that the Ryan plan would kill Medicare seem to have paid off, according to a Bloomberg poll released Wednesday. The poll, otherwise rife with bad news for the Obama administration, found that more Americans are worried by the idea that after the 2012 elections, Republicans will gain control of both houses of Congress and the presidency and cut Medicare, Medicaid and other domestic programs, than are worried that Democrats will retain control of the presidency and the Senate and continue the current spending policies.

According to the poll, 49 percent are more worried by Republican cuts to entitlement programs, while 40 percent are more worried about Democrats keeping the current levels of spending. (POLL: Libertarianism on the rise in last three years)

That’s a rare bit of good news for Democrats in this poll, which also found that 66 percent of Americans think that the country is on the wrong track.

Obama has a relatively high approval rating of 49 percent, with 44 percent disapproval, but as in other polls, his approval numbers appear to be buoyed by the perception that he’s doing a good job dealing with terrorism – 69 percent of respondents approved of the job he is doing in that category. When it comes to the economy, creating jobs, and dealing with the budget deficit, Obama’s approval numbers are in the thirties.

Those economic issues, however, are what voters cited as the most important issues facing the country right now. Unemployment and jobs tops the list, with 42 percent of voters calling that the most important issue. Seventeen percent said government spending was the most important, followed by 13 percent who named the federal deficit and 10 percent who said it was health care.

The poll found Americans to be rather pessimistic about the future. Fifty-five percent said they expected American children to have a lower standard of living than their parents do today.

A plurality – 41 percent – said they expected that the economy would recover to 5 percent economic growth in the next three to five years. Twenty-eight percent said they expect it would not be until the next six to 10 years. Just 8 percent said they expect recovery in the next two years.

As far as what that means for Obama’s reelection prospects, 45 percent said they strongly agreed with the statement that “In 2012, President Obama will have had his chance—if the economy isn’t substantially better by election day, it will be very hard to vote for him.” Sixteen percent said they mostly agreed with that statement. 37 percent said they mostly or strongly disagreed with that statement.

Among registered voters – who comprised 741 of the 1,000 respondents surveyed – 31 percent said they definitely planned to vote for Obama, while 40 percent said they will definitely vote for another candidate. 24 percent said they would consider another candidate.

The poll was conducted by Selzer & Company, a polling firm based in Des Moines, Iowa, and surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and over. Results are based on over-the-phone interviews conducted on both landlines and cell phones. “Responses were weighted by age and race to reflect the general population based on recent census data,” according to the methodology. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.