FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll:Economic Concerns Increase

Concern about the state of the economy is growing, with almost one quarter of Americans saying the country is currently in a recession.

The latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll results show that almost twice as many think the country is in a recession today as thought so earlier in the year (23 percent today, up from 12 percent in March). Half characterize the economy as being in a "downturn," leaving only about 20 percent who think the economy is doing okay.

In addition, on the personal level, today 29 percent of the public say they are "frightened" about their finances, up from 18 percent four months ago.

Personal Financial Situation

A year from now, about half think their personal financial situation will be better than it is today, 19 percent expect their situation to be worse, and 24 percent expect no change in their finances.

"It is a horrible, over-worked, tawdry cliché," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman, "but ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ is still one of the most valuable ways to look at polling data. The increased fear about the economy has clearly cost the president some points of both personal favorability and job approval. Even when people approve of each of your day-to-day actions, as they by and large do of Bush, if things are perceived as getting worse, the man in charge is going to suffer some losses."

On what could be characterized as a positive note, most Americans say they usually pay more than the minimum on their credit card balance. Forty-three percent pay the full credit card balance, 34 percent make a partial payment, and only 9 percent pay the minimum amount due. These results are essentially the same as results from 1997 except the number of folks saying they use credit cards has increased. In 1997, 16 percent said they didn't have any credit cards, and today, the number who say they do without cards is 10 percent.

Here are some other findings on events in the news:

About half of Americans think it's a good idea for the president to get out of Washington for the month of August, compared to 40 percent who think a month is too long for him to be away.

By 59 percent to 26 percent, the public approves of Bush's decision on stem cell research. Overall President Bush's job performance rating is 55 percent approve, 32 percent disapprove.

Americans are divided on whether former Vice President Al Gore should run for president again in 2004 (40 percent "yes," 45 percent "no"). More think Gore grew a beard to try to create a new image for himself (45 percent) than think he did it just for fun (34 percent).

Some results for Al Sharpton to review as he considers his presidential bid: 28 percent of the public say they have never heard of him. Sharpton's favorable rating is 15 percent, 42 percent unfavorable, and 15 percent have no opinion.

About equal numbers say they would read Bill Clinton's book (19 percent) and Hillary's book (17 percent). Only six percent think Bill's book will be completely truthful.

Polling was conducted by telephone August 22-23, 2001 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

I'm going to read the names of some political figures. Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each one. If you've never heard of someone, please just say so.
SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3.(Can't say) 4.(Never heard of) (ROTATE)

1. George W. Bush

2. Al Gore

3. Dick Cheney

4. Al Sharpton

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?

6. Considering how President Bush has performed so far, do you think he deserves to be reelected or would the country probably be better off with someone else as president?

7. Do you think Former Vice President Al Gore should run for president again in 2004?

8. Al Gore has recently grown a beard. Which of the following do you think is more likely to be the reason Gore grew a beard:

9. In August, President Bush has been vacationing and also traveling to give speeches around the country. Do you think it's a good idea for the president to get out of Washington for the month of August, or do you think a month is too long for the president to be out of Washington?

10. Recently President Bush announced his decision to allow government funding of a limited amount of stem cell research. Do you approve or disapprove of the president's decision?

11. (If disapproves) Do you disapprove of Bush's decision because it allows some cell stem research or because you think it overly restricts stem cell research?

12. Does anyone in your family have a disease where there is speculation that it may be cured by stem cell research?

13. Do you think the recent federal tax cuts went too far in cutting taxes and Americans should send their rebate checks back to the government, or do you think the tax cuts didn't go far enough and Americans should receive larger rebate checks?

14. There have been recent reports the federal budget may be close to running a deficit. Do you think this is more likely to be because:

15. Do you think the country is currently:
In an economic recession,
In a downturn, but not a recession, or
Do you think the economy is doing okay?
(Not sure)

16. How about your own personal financial situation. Are you frightened about your personal financial future or do you feel safe and secure?
SCALE: 1. Frightened, 2. Safe and secure, 3. (Neither), 4. (Not sure)

17. A year from now, do you think your personal financial situation will be better or worse?

18. When making credit card payments, do you usually pay:
The full balance,
A partial amount, but more than the minimum, or
The minimum amount due?
(Not sure)
(No credit cards)

19. Congressman Gary Condit admitted to having a romantic relationship with the Washington intern Chandra Levy who has been missing since April 30. From what you've heard or read, do you think Gary Condit had anything to do with Levy's disappearance?
SCALE: 1. Yes, he did have something to do with it, 2. No, he didn't have anything to do with it, 3. (Not sure)

20. Congressman Condit serves on the House Intelligence Committee, a committee that receives confidential information about national security. Given the controversy surrounding Condit and his involvement with missing intern Chandra Levy, do you think he should he be removed from the House Intelligence Committee?

21. Do you think we will ever know what happened to Chandra Levy?
SCALE: 1. Yes, we will, 2. No, we won't, 3. (Not sure)

22. Do you think that the recent media coverage of shark attacks has been responsible, or do you think journalists have been trying to scare people with their coverage?

23. Have you changed your travel plans this summer because of any of the following?

24. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have signed book deals. Do you think you would rather read Bill's book or Hillary's book?

25. Which of the following is closest to how much of Bill Clinton's book you think will be completely true?