Published August 12, 2011
One in three. That's how many American voters feel hopeful about where the country is headed.
The bleak outlook reflects dissatisfaction with the new debt agreement, and an increasing sense the economy is getting worse.
According to a Fox News poll released Thursday, nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) don’t feel hopeful about the direction of the country. Just 33 percent do.
Most Republicans (81 percent) and independents (74 percent) are not hopeful. Democrats are alone in feeling more hopeful than not -- but just barely: 49-46 percent.
Behind the public’s gloomy attitude: 71 percent think the economy is getting worse. That’s up 13 percentage points from 58 percent just three weeks ago, before the debt agreement, and a whopping 19 points from 52 percent in July 2010.
The sentiment about a worsening economy is widespread, as those in both higher and lower-income households as well as younger and older voters alike feel that way.
Still, there are partisan differences: Democrats are four times more likely than Republicans to say the economy is getting better.
Voters are also downbeat about the new debt deal. Half (50 percent) see it as a “weak” agreement that won’t do much good and another 28 percent say it’s a “terrible” deal that will actually damage the country. Only 14 percent describe it as a “good” agreement that is in the “best interest of Americans.”
Democrats, Republicans and independents are all most likely to describe the deal as “weak.”
In all, 36 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove of the debt agreement. Among voters who disapprove, they are much more likely to cite the fact that the deal increased the debt limit as the reason than to say it’s because it didn’t include tax increases.
Voters by 3-to-1 say Americans are over-taxed, and a 74-percent majority expects the government will continue to spend more than it takes in despite the deal.
Few voters -- 12 percent -- think the debt deal will make the economy better. Nearly three times as many think it will make the economy worse (34 percent). Interviewing for the poll was conducted after Standard & Poor’s downgrading of the country’s credit rating for the first time in history.
By a 39-22 percent margin, more voters think Congressional Republicans won the negotiations and got more of what they wanted in the debt agreement than Congressional Democrats. Even so, most Republicans disapprove of the deal, while just over half of Democrats approve of it.
The agreement established a new “Super Committee” to find $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts over the next ten years. The committee will be made up of six Democrats and six Republicans. Will they set politics aside and work for the good of the country?
In the recent debt negotiations, a 31-percent plurality of voters said President Obama set politics aside and put the country first. Seventeen percent said Congressional Republicans did, 13 percent said members of the Tea Party movement and 11 percent said Congressional Democrats. Another 13 percent said none of them set politics aside and worked for the national good.
Pessimistic views about the direction of the country and negative reviews of the debt limit agreement have pushed approval of Congress to a new low of 10 percent. A record high 81 percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 904 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from August 7 to August 9. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.