08/12/2004 - With three months to go until the presidential election, the American public remains largely dissatisfied with economic conditions and with President Bush's stewardship of the economy. Two-thirds rate the national economy as "only fair" or "poor," while just one-third judge it to be "excellent" or "good." Accordingly, Bush gets low ratings for his handling of the economy: 42% approve, 52% disapprove. And by an increasing margin, voters express more confidence in the Democratic nominee, John Kerry, than in Bush to improve economic conditions. Kerry now leads Bush by a wide 52% to 37% margin on the economy, up from a 44% to 39% lead in March.
While public attitudes toward the economy loom as a major problem for the president, there are also some indications in the latest Pew Research Center nationwide survey, conducted August 5-10 among 1,512 adults (1,166 registered voters), of a slight improvement in economic attitudes. The number of Americans who expect that their personal financial situation will improve has risen to 70%, up from 64% in September 2003.
And despite news that employers added fewer jobs than expected in July, Americans are slightly more positive about the job market in their local communities than they had been. Currently 34% report that jobs are plentiful in their community. This is the best evaluation of the local job conditions in Pew surveys since June of 2001, and it is better than the 27% who had a positive opinion of the job situation at the start of this year. Even so, a 55% majority continue to say that jobs are difficult to find in their communities. This compares to only 44% who held that view early in Bush's term (June of 2001).
Overall, people are more positive about their own personal financial situation than about the national economy: 51% say they are in excellent or good shape, while 48% say they are in only fair or poor shape. Four years ago at this time the public had about the same take on their personal financial situation (52% positive, 46% negative), but they were more positive eight years ago (55%-44%), and much more negative in the summer of 1992 (35%-64%). Swing voters are more bearish about the nation's economic prospects than voters who say they have already decided on a presidential candidate.
Read the full report Public Faults Bush on Economy - 55% Say Jobs Are Scarce on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.