A 57-percent majority of American voters feels “hopeful” about the direction of the country, up significantly from the 33 percent who felt hopeful a year ago. When it comes to the economy, however, roughly the same number says the worst isn’t over yet, according to a Fox News poll.
Nearly six voters in 10 say they don’t see any signs the economy has started to turn the corner (58 percent).
Conversely, 39 percent say they feel the worst is over. While that’s unchanged from positive sentiment in January, it’s up 10 percentage points from the 29 percent who felt that way in 2011.
The new poll, released Friday, finds half of voters think President Obama’s economic plan “needs more time to work,” while another 5 percent say it’s “already worked.”
Some 28 percent say Obama’s plan “has failed,” and 15 percent think he “didn’t have a plan.”
Almost all Democrats think Obama’s plan has either already worked or just needs more time, while most Republicans say the president’s plan has failed or that he didn’t have one.
Independents split evenly on Obama’s economic plan: 49 percent think it’s worked or will given more time, and 48 percent feel the opposite.
Views of the long term are improving, yet they’re still more negative than positive. Just under half of voters -- 49 percent -- say life for the next generation of Americans will be worse than life today, while 42 percent think it will be better. The number of optimists has grown 15 percentage points from a low of 27 percent since October 2010, just before the last midterm election.
In another measure, just 39 percent of voters under retirement age believe they will be able to afford to retire when they are 65. When Fox News last asked that question in 1998, many more voters -- 67 percent -- thought they would be able to stop working at age 65.
Those most likely to believe they will be able to retire at 65 include voters living in households with annual income over $100,000 (55 percent), Democrats (54 percent) and voters under age 30 (52 percent).
Views on the current condition of the economy as well as what the future holds for the next generation have wide partisan divides. By a whopping 50 percentage-point margin, Democrats (80 percent) are more likely than Republicans (30 percent) to say they feel hopeful about the direction of the country today.
A smaller yet still notable majority of Democrats (59 percent) thinks life will be better for the next generation, while majorities of Republicans (69 percent) and independents (52 percent) say life will be worse.
And while 59 percent of Democrats think the economy has started to turn the corner, fully 81 percent of Republicans disagree.
Finally, a slim majority of voters thinks the country is moving away from capitalism more toward socialism. By a 51-to-39 percent margin, voters say the transition is already underway.
Three times as many voters think a move toward socialism would be a bad thing (64 percent) rather than a good thing (20 percent).
And three times as many voters say Obama (59 percent) is more likely to move the country toward socialism than Romney (17 percent).
Among the groups most inclined to think a move toward socialism would be good are Democrats (33 percent), voters with household incomes under $30,000 (32 percent), as well as young people under age 30 (29 percent) and those living in the Northeast (27 percent).
This perception may reflect voters' reactions to Obama's recent comment concerning the nature of economic success in the U.S. When asked about Obama's full quote at the heart of the "you didn't build that" controversy, a 51-percent majority says he wasn't giving enough credit to business owners for their success. About one-third think the president put the success of business owners in the proper context (35 percent).
Predictably, Democrats were much more likely to say the president put the success of small business into proper context. Fifty-nine percent hold that view, while 26 percent of Democrats say he wasn't giving business owners enough credit. On the other side of the ledger, both independents (48 to 29 percent) and Republicans (84 to 9 percent) thought Obama’s "you didn't build that" line went too far.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews from August 5 to August 7 among 930 randomly-chosen registered voters nationwide. The poll is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.