The Hill Poll: Voters say Obama hurt economy, but GOP also blamed

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More likely voters now say President Obama has hurt the economy since he took office than held that view in early June, and fewer think he’s helped the economy since that last sampling, according to this week’s The Hill Poll.

The latest poll indicates that 50 percent of likely voters believe Obama’s policies have hurt the economy while just 35 percent say he has helped it. In June, 48 percent said he had hurt it while 41 percent thought he had helped.

Obama’s inability to improve the economy will surely be a popular campaign theme for his opponent, as nearly every Republican candidate is hammering him on that issue already.

Among independents — who usually hold the key to victory nationally — 52 percent think Obama has hurt the economy and only 27 percent say he’s helped.

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But there is a silver lining for the White House: Voters blame Republicans in Congress more than they do the president.

When asked who’s to blame for the current economic circumstances, 48 percent point the finger at the GOP and 40 percent blame Obama. Centrists hold Republicans more responsible than the president by a 2-to-1 margin (56 percent compared to 28 percent).

Interestingly, Republicans are more inclined to blame their own party than are Democrats to blame Obama. Twenty percent of likely voters who identify themselves as Republican say congressional members of their own party are responsible for the lousy economy, while 12 percent of Democrats blame Obama.

In June’s poll, 47 percent of likely voters blamed former President George W. Bush for the bad economy while 42 percent blamed Obama.
The two polls suggest voters’ gloomy sense of the economy only worsened during the summer, and that neither political party has been able to fix it.

The bitter debate over the debt ceiling has also not inspired confidence about the economic future.

Nearly 1 in 3 likely voters expect to be worse off next year. Forty percent said they expect to be in the same economic position they are in now — virtually no difference from June when 39 percent said the same thing.

The most optimistic group is black voters. Fifty-four percent said they expect to be economically better off next year, while only 20 percent of white voters believe the same to be true.

Younger voters age 18-39 are also more likely to say they will be better off next year — 33 percent believe this is the case, much more than the 23 percent for all likely voters.

In general, black voters are far kinder to Obama, with 68 percent saying he’s helped the economy during his term and only 6 percent saying he’s hurt it. Similarly, only 6 percent blame Obama for the current economic conditions, while 84 percent place the blame on Republicans.

Fifty-five percent of white voters say the president hurt the economy and 31 percent feel his policies helped. White voters split the blame for the current economic condition between Obama and the congressional Republicans, 44 percent to 46 percent, respectively

While Democrats and blacks remain more likely than Republicans and whites to say they have more pride in the country than they did four years ago, the proportion of blacks who express this view has dropped considerably since June, when 69 percent said so. In the latest poll, that figure dropped to 42 percent, while the proportion saying they felt the same amount of pride rose to 33 percent from 23 percent in June. Those saying they feel less pride doubled from 8 percent to 16 percent.

Forty-three percent of Democrats say in this latest poll that they feel more pride in the United States than four years ago, the same percentage who expressed this opinion in June.

Overall, 39 percent of likely voters say they have less pride, an increase from 36 percent in June. Fewer people have more pride — 26 percent — than the 31 percent who felt that way in June.

The poll was conducted the same day Obama announced a $447 billion jobs bill before a joint session of Congress. High unemployment and low economic growth contribute to the negative economic outlook of voters.

This is the second in a series of continuing polls The Hill intends to conduct regularly to gauge the national mood about the economy and the country’s general direction.

Pulse Opinion Research conducted The Hill Poll on Sept. 8. It is based on the responses of 1,000 likely voters and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Click here to view data from The Hill Poll.