Poll: Voters say they are worse off, but prefer Obama over Romney on economy

A majority of Americans believe they are worse off economically than they were four years ago — but still believe President Obama is a better choice than Mitt Romney to manage the recovery.


A new poll released Tuesday found that even though 55 percent of adults believe the economy is worse now than when Obama took office, 43 percent believe he is better for the economy, compared to 34 percent favoring Romney.

The CNBC All-America Economic Survey gave Obama the edge on what looks to be the dominant issue of the 2012 campaign.

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Only 10 percent of the 802 adults polled rate the current economy as "good," with 53 percent describing it as "poor." In addition, 35 percent said they believe the economy will improve, while 23 percent expect it to stay the same and 25 percent are bracing for it to get worse.

Romney has emphasized to voters that Obama cannot say they are better off now than they were four years ago, and the poll agrees. Forty-five percent of those polled said they were personally worse off now, compared to 30 percent who feel better off.

Over Obama's first term, adults gave declining marks to the overall economy, job market and housing market, among other areas of discontent. Those polled were split on whether their wages had improved over the last four years, and more thought their stock portfolio had improved than gotten worse.

But despite these widespread concerns about the economy at the conclusion of Obama's first term, those polled still give the president the edge over Romney on a range of economic issues, including the job market, manufacturing, consumer protection and housing. The only area where Romney enjoys a slight advantage is on addressing the federal budget deficit, where he leads by 3 percentage points.

The poll also finds Romney has failed to capitalize on the traditional GOP strong point of taxes. When asked if they believe their taxes would go up, down, or stay the same under Obama or Romney, adults provided nearly identical numbers.

A possible explanation for Obama's ability to retain favor with voters despite widespread economic discontent is his continued personal appeal. When asked whom they would rather hang out with on the weekend, Obama enjoys a 28-point margin over Romney, with 30 percent saying neither. However, those polled preferred Romney by 18 points when it came to the question of whom they would rather have investing their money.

The new poll indicates that Obama's standing on the economy might be improving following the Republican and Democratic conventions. At the beginning of the month, a poll conducted by The Hill found that 50 percent of voters were "very unsatisfied" with the president's handling of the economy, and 52 percent said the nation is in "worse condition" now than in September 2008. Fifty-four percent said Obama did not deserve to be reelected based on his job performance.