The good news is many American voters believe the nation's economy is improving. The bad news is an equal number believe the job situation is getting worse, according to the latest Fox News poll. In addition, many more voters continue to say former President George W. Bush is responsible for the federal deficit.
The new poll finds 49 percent of voters think the economy is getting better, while 37 percent say it is getting worse and 11 percent say "staying the same." The number saying things are getting better is up 9 percentage points from 40 percent who thought so a year ago (June 2009).
But when it comes to jobs, it's the reverse: 36 percent say it's getting better and 48 percent getting worse.
On a personal level, 36 percent say it feels like things are getting better for their family, while about the same number — 38 percent — says it feels like things are getting worse. Another 24 percent say it feels like things are staying the same.
Those in households with a family income of less than $50,000 per year are significantly more likely than those in higher income households to say it feels like the economy is getting worse.
The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from May 4 to May 5. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Could the country go bankrupt? Fifty-eight percent of voters think the United States could go bankrupt, but think it's unlikely. One in four thinks it could happen, and it could happen soon (25 percent). Few — 13 percent — say the country couldn't go bankrupt, period.
By 51-27 percent voters put responsibility for the current size of the federal deficit on former President Bush over President Obama. That's little changed from last summer when 53 percent blamed Bush and 28 percent Obama (July 2009).
Most Democrats blame Bush (83 percent). Republicans and independents spread the liability around a bit more. A 53 percent majority of Republicans blame Obama, while 18 percent put it on Bush and 17 percent say "both." For independents, 50 percent say Bush is responsible for the deficit, 21 percent say Obama and 21 percent say "both."
The economy remains the top priority for Americans today, although there is disagreement on which party would lead more effectively on this issue. The poll finds by a slim 3 percentage point margin, Democrats (44 percent) have the edge over Republicans (41 percent) on which party would do a better job handling the economy.
By a wider 13-point margin, more voters think Democrats would do a better job on "oversight of financial institutions" (47-34 percent).
Goldman Sachs and Banking Regulations
Despite significant support for stricter controls on Wall Street, a majority of American voters think the regulations won't make any difference.
More than three times as many voters favor (69 percent) as oppose (20 percent) imposing stricter controls and regulations on Wall Street and the financial services industry. To varying degrees, majorities of Democrats (82 percent), Republicans (55 percent) and independents (65 percent) favor new laws.
Would new regulations really make difference? Most people don't think so. While 25 percent think stricter controls will be effective and change things on Wall Street, a 66 percent majority thinks financial executives "have ways to get around regulations" so new laws wouldn't make any difference.
Who's more to blame for the economic crisis? By 41-31 percent more people blame Wall Street for its bad financial practices than blame Congress for its bad oversight. Some 21 percent blame both equally.
More voters would pick U.S. senators (35 percent) over Goldman Sachs executives (19 percent) to manage their family's finances. About a third says "neither."
Moreover, 55 percent think Goldman deliberately cheated their clients. That's more than double the number who think their clients were just taking the kinds of risks that are expected on Wall Street (25 percent).
Overall, just 7 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Goldman Sachs, while almost eight times as many — 55 percent — have a negative view. The remaining 38 percent are unable to give an opinion or have never heard of the firm.