Three-quarters of public say things in the country are going badly

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

Three-quarters of the American public now believe that the country’s affairs are going pretty or very badly, according to a new CNN/ORC poll released Monday.

When asked how well things are going in the country today, 75 percent of respondents said it was going pretty badly or very badly. That’s a 15 percentage point increase since the end of May, when 60 percent polled said things were going very badly or pretty badly, while 39 percent said things were going very well or fairly well. Now just 24 percent say things are going fairly well or very well.

The poll surveyed 1,008 Americans aged 18 and over in phone interviews from August 5 through August 7. That means people were surveyed after Congress passed a deal raising the debt ceiling on Tuesday and after the Dow crashed 513 points on Thursday, but both before and after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the United States’ credit rating after the markets closed on Friday evening.

The stock market’s precipitous decline over the past few weeks did not seem to be a major factor for most people. Sixty percent said “the fall of the stock market in recent weeks” did not change their opinion of the American economy, while 38 percent said their confidence was shaken.

Part of that may be due to the fact that a number of Americans had little stake in the stock market. Forty-five percent said the stock market falling did not affect their family’s financial position at all and 39 percent said it affected their personal finances only in a minor way. Just 16 percent said it had a major effect.

In general, people are very pessimistic about the state of the economy. Sixty percent said that in their view, “the economy is still in a downturn and conditions are continuing to worsen,” compared to just 36 percent who felt that way at the beginning of April. Thirty-one percent said that “economic recovery has not started but conditions have stabilized and are not getting any worse” and just 9 percent said that recovery had begun.

More Americans seem to have come to terms with the debt ceiling deal, with the public now evenly split on whether they approve or disapprove. Forty-eight percent said they approved of the deal, while 50 percent said they disapproved. Last week, a CNN/ORC poll found that just 44 percent approved of the deal, while 52 percent disapproved.

This poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.