Poll: Deepening Pessimism on Economy

Overwhelmingly, Americans feel gloomy about the country’s current economic condition and, even though a majority supports a war with Iraq, half think such a war will exacerbate economic troubles.

According to the latest FOX News poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, few people give the economy positive marks, with only one percent saying “excellent” and 13 percent rating the economy as in “good” shape. Altogether 85 percent rate it negatively — 41 percent say “only fair” and 44 percent say the economy is in “poor” condition.

In addition, 69 percent today think the country is still in a recession, up from 59 percent one year ago. Only a few believe the country never really was in a recession (18 percent) or that it is over (six percent).

Opinion is divided on the economic impact of the war on terrorism. About equal numbers believe the economic problems have been made “much worse” by the war on terror as believe the nation’s economy would have “suffered most of these problems anyway.”

Looking ahead, nearly half (49 percent) think the economy will be in better shape a year from now, down from 59 percent in January. About one-third think the economy will be worse next year, making these current expectations the lowest in two years.

"Consumers have supported the economy by borrowing and spending even as business spending has dropped," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "As they grow more and more gloomy about both current conditions and the future of the economy, they are likely to take steps, such as curtailing spending, that could make the overall economic situation worse."

More people think invading Iraq will hurt the nation’s economy than think it will help. Half (51 percent) think if the United States goes to war it will damage the economy while 33 percent think war will help. (Currently, 62 percent of the public sees war with Iraq as inevitable.)

Fewer, 38 percent, think war with Iraq would hurt their own family’s finances, with 12 percent saying it would help their financial situation and 39 percent saying it would make no difference.

Polling was conducted by telephone March 11-12, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points. Results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted. LV = likely voters

1. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate economic conditions today?

2. A year from now, do you think the economy will be better or worse? Is that a lot (better/worse) or only a little (better/worse)?

3. Some experts say the country's economic recession is over, while others say the country never really was in a recession. How did it feel to you and your familythe recession happened and is over, there wasn't a recession at all, or do you feel like we're still in a recession?

4. Do you think current problems with the nation's economy:

5. Do you think cutting taxes now would help or hurt the nation's economy? Is that (help/hurt) a lot or a little?

6. If the United States goes to war with Iraq, do you think it will help or hurt the U.S. economy? Is that (help/hurt) the economy a lot or a little?

7. If the United States goes to war with Iraq, do you think it will help or hurt your own family's financial situation? Is that (help/hurt) a lot or a little?