Hill Poll: Gloomy voters say US on wrong track, kids will be poorer

A mood of economic gloom hangs over the nation as President Obama and Republican leaders scramble to strike a deficit deal that avoids automatic tax hikes and spending cuts, according to a new poll for The Hill. 

The poll, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, found nearly 6-in-10 people (59 percent) feel the country is on the wrong track. It also showed people are deeply pessimistic about their chances for future prosperity, with 54 percent saying they believe their children will be worse off as adults than their parents.

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The poll results cast a shadow over talks in Washington aimed at averting the “fiscal cliff” of $500 billion in tax hikes and $109 billion in automatic spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1.

Barely a month after Obama won a second term, and even as the nation continues to make modest job gains, fewer than 1-in-3 (31 percent) say the country is on the right track.

Only 34 percent of people feel they will be better off at the end of Obama’s second term than they are right now. And just 16 percent believe a better economic future awaits their children when they grow up.

The dour sentiment is particularly striking among Republicans, who were crestfallen over GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s defeat on Nov. 6.

Among voters who identified themselves as Republicans, 87 percent said the country is on the wrong track and a mere 8 percent said it is on the right track.

Seven-in-10 Republicans believe they will be worse off at the end of Obama’s presidency, and 80 percent said their children’s future is bleaker than their own.

Only 4 percent of Republicans think their children will be better off.

By contrast, Democrats are in a somewhat sunnier — though not overwhelmingly upbeat — post-election mood. Fifty-four percent of Democrats said they think the country is on the right track compared to 31 percent who said it is on the wrong track.

Six-in-10 Democrats, meanwhile, believe they’ll be better off in four years.

But even Democrats are worried about the country’s long-term future. Only 30 percent said their children face a brighter future and 30 percent said they will be worse off.

African Americans — who have endured high unemployment rates throughout the economic recession and recovery — are more upbeat about the country’s future than white Americans, the poll found.

While just 30 percent of whites said the country is on the right track, 44 percent of black voters believe the nation is headed in the right direction.

Similarly, 64 percent of blacks believe their families will be better off in four years compared to just 30 percent of whites. Over the long term, 56 percent of African Americans say their children face a brighter future, compared to 10 percent of whites.

The poll was taken Dec. 13 among 1,000 likely voters and is considered accurate within 3 percentage points.

The poll’s sample was 32 percent Republican, 38 percent Democrat and 30 percent who identified as neither.

Voters are evenly divided in their views on the country’s overall ideological leaning, the poll found.

Twenty-six percent of people said they believe the United States is a predominantly left-of-center nation, while 30 percent feel it is a right-of-center country. Another 25 percent felt the U.S. is neither right nor left.

Among Democrats, only 17 percent said they believe the U.S. is a left-of-center country, compared to 29 percent of Republicans who felt that way.

A near-equal number of Democrats and Republicans (31 percent and 30 percent, respectively) said the U.S. is predominantly a right-of-center country.

The Hill’s poll found a strikingly large number of voters, 59 percent, believe the U.S. is less admired around the globe than it was four years ago when Obama took office. Just 37 percent said the country is much more, or somewhat more, admired than it was four years ago.

When Obama took office, he pledged to try and restore the nation’s international standing, which he felt had been damaged during George W. Bush’s presidency.

Republicans strongly feel the opposite has occurred, with 87 percent saying the country is somewhat or much less admired than it was four years ago. Only 10 percent of Republicans say the country’s image has improved.

Sixty-five percent of Democrats say the country is more admired now than when Bush left office, while 32 percent say it is less admired.

Click here to view data from The Hill Poll.