NEW YORK – A new FOX News poll finds that more than 4 of 10 Americans are concerned they or someone close to them could lose their home in the current economic climate. Even so, sizable majorities say the government should not bail out homeowners who took out mortgage loans they are having trouble paying or the banks that made those loans.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from August 21 to August 22. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Nearly half of Americans (44 percent) are concerned that they or a close friend or relative could lose their home, including 23 percent that say they are "very" concerned and 21 percent "somewhat" concerned. Slightly more (54 percent) say they are not concerned.
Despite this fairly high level of concern, 70 percent say the government should not use taxpayer money to bail out homeowners who are having trouble paying their mortgages, and 80 percent say banks and mortgage companies that made bad loans should not be bailed out.
Democrats (26 percent) are more than twice as likely as Republicans (10 percent) to think the government should bail out homeowners, and Democrats are similarly more likely to think the government should help banks and mortgage companies that made loans that people cannot repay.
A third of Americans (34 percent) think home values will be higher next year, 25 percent say lower and 35 percent think they will be about the same as they are now. Southerners are the most optimistic, with 37 percent thinking home values will increase next year, compared with 29 percent of those living in the West.
"It is worth remembering that in 2003, 52 percent of Americans thought home prices would be going up," said Opinion Dynamics CEO John Gorman. "Only 10 percent—not the 25 percent we see today—thought prices would go down. That exuberance earlier in the decade is what led many people to take loans they can no longer afford."
Looking ahead at the stock market, twice as many think the it will be higher next year (29 percent) than think it will be lower (13 percent), while the largest group says it will be about the same as it is now (43 percent). The last time this question was asked, in October 2003, the results reflected much more confidence in the stock market: 46 percent said it would go higher, 7 percent lower and 35 percent said it would remain at the same level
Among investors, 33 percent think the stock market will be higher next year, 12 percent lower and 44 percent the same.
People think a case of the jitters is the most likely culprit when the Dow tumbles. The poll shows that over half of the public think it is more likely that big drops in the stock market are based on fears about the market’s future (53 percent) than on hard economic facts (12 percent). Investors agree — 61 percent say the drops are usually based on fears and 11 percent say facts.
What’s the best thing to do when stocks fall? That’s a matter of opinion of course. A few people say the best thing to do is "sell" (7 percent), but three times as many say it’s the time to "buy" (23 percent). The most common wisdom in this circumstance is to "do nothing" (47 percent).
Some 16 percent of Americans say they follow the stock market very closely and another 26 percent say somewhat closely. Over half say they don’t follow it very closely or at all.
Thinking about the economy in general, 23 percent think it will get better during the next year, though slightly more Americans — 32 percent — think it will get worse, and 38 percent think the economy will stay about the same. The results are almost identical among investors.
Finally, an indicator of how powerful an issue economic uncertainty has become, by more than 2-to-1, Americans are more concerned about having enough money in retirement savings (64 percent) than about surviving a future terrorist attack (24 percent).