THE HILL POLL: Many voters expect to become poorer

More than one in three likely voters expect to be worse off when they go to the polls a year from this November, a somber fact for President Obama’s reelection campaign, while just 25 percent believe they will be better off, according to this week’s The Hill poll.

Thirty-nine percent said they expect to be in the same economic position they are now, but 65 percent also said they believe the country is on the wrong track. 

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The most optimistic group is liberals, with 41 percent of them expecting to be in a better position financially. Just 25 percent of centrists feel that way, and only 15 percent of conservatives.

Those numbers held politically, with 40 percent of Democrats saying they see brighter personal economic days ahead. Only 16 percent of Republicans said the same.

Forty-eight percent say they believe Obama has had a negative effect on the economy during his first term, while 41 percent say he has helped it, although by a 47-42 percent margin they still blame former President George W. Bush more than Obama for its current state.

The new poll seems to suggest a souring feeling among voters about the trajectory of the economy.

Last month, Gallup reported that 37 percent of Americans felt the economy was improving, up from the previous version of the same poll.

“This is the highest level since mid-February and within four points of where such optimism stood during the comparable week in 2010,” according to Gallup’s most recent Economic Confidence Index, released in early May.

Notably, only 6 percent of blacks responded that they believe they will be worse off in one year, while 48 percent expect to be about the same and 46 percent expect their situation to be better. Whites were far more pessimistic, with 40 percent expecting things to get worse and 40 percent expecting to be the same.

The poll was conducted for The Hill by Pulse Opinion Research, which surveyed 1,000 likely voters across the nation. The poll has a 3-point margin of error.

The newspaper intends to check back with voters on a monthly basis in order to gauge the national mood about the economy and the country’s 
general direction.

The poll was conducted last Thursday, just hours before new data showed the economy added only 54,000 jobs in May as the unemployment rate increased to 9.1 percent.

The new numbers were lower than anticipated, with the Labor Department also lowering its estimate for how many jobs were created in March and April by 35,000.

When asked whether the United States is going in the right direction or veering down the wrong track, only 28 percent reported they felt the nation is headed in the right direction, with 7 percent not sure.

A jolting 85 percent of conservatives said the nation is on the wrong track, with 54 percent of those placing themselves in the liberal and moderate categories saying the same. There was but one ideological group with more than 40 percent saying the country is headed in the right direction: liberals, at 41 percent.

When it came to blame for the current economic problems, the partisan breakdown was predictable, with 70 percent of Republicans blaming Obama and 75 percent of Democrats holding Bush culpable. Independents blamed Bush more than Obama 47-40 percent.

Meantime, 36 percent of those surveyed said they felt less pride in America than they had four years ago, while 32 percent said they had about the same and 31 percent said they had more pride.

The Hill Poll for June 6, 2011

 Ian Swanson contributed to this story.