Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Real State Of The Union, Part 1: What Americans Think

It is no secret that for most Americans, the state of the nation, regardless of what Obama said in his recent state of the union message, is not good:
  • Over 20 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed. 
  • The national debt has already broken through the $17 TRILLION barrier, currently at about $17.3 TRILLION, burdening current and FUTURE American generations with an enormous debt load. The per person debt load for every Americans is well over $50,000 today and growing.
  • Economic growth after the last recession has been the most anemic post recession growth in the past century.
  • Our foreign policy has been a total failure to contain the bad guys and support the good guys around the world.
  • Obama Care is endangering individual American’s health, lives, economic opportunities, and job prospects without resolving the problem of high health care costs in this country.
  • Crony capitalism is alive and well and growing quickly as a result of a corrupt Washington political class.
  • That same political class has shown no ability, will, or intelligence to attack and resolve the major issues and problems of our times.
But, hey, that is just my opinion. What does the rest of America think about the state of the union? Over the next three days we will take some time to review the latest opinion polls from various sources and see if I am right or if most Americans are happy about the direction of the country.

1) The fabulous Bankrupting America website recently looked at a current opinion poll that was fielded by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, timed to coincide with Obama’s state of the union address. This is what they found relative to how Americans feel about the state of the nation:
  • The 63% of respondents who currently think the nation is going down the wrong track attained a peak among the months in which Obama has delivered his state of the union addresses in the past. 
  • Only 28% think the nation is on the right track, less than half that think it is on the wrong track.
  • In an open-ended question within the survey, NBC News/WSJ found that Americans offered more negative than positive descriptors about the direction of the nation (62% negative, e.g. “down hill” or “disaster” or “hard times” vs. 27% positive, e.g. like “hopeful” or “improving”).
  • 71% of respondents said that they are “somewhat” or “very” dissatisfied with the direction of the nation’s economy. 
  • This compares to 64% in June 2013.
  • 48% of the respondents feel that Obama Care is more of a bad idea than 34% who think it is a good one. 
  • In fact, 42% strongly say it’s a bad idea.
  • For the first time ever in a state of the union month, more Americans were seen disapproving than approving of the President's job performance, 51% vs. 43%.
  • These comparisons of approval vs. disapproval have swung negative by 13 percentage points in the past 12 months.
  • 39% of respondents said that the country is worse off than when President Obama took office vs. 31% said we are better off and 29% said we are in the same place.
  • Ninety-one percent of respondents said that it is an “absolute priority” for the Obama administration and Congress to create jobs. 
  • Also ranking high, 74% said that reducing the federal budget deficit is also an “absolute priority.”
Unfortunately, given what Americans’ priorities are, job creation and reducing deficit spending, have been two of the major failures of this administration and the political class. Their economic ignorance has been on full display over the past five years and it is not pretty in either theory or the reality of anemic economic and job creation performance.

2) Not to be outdone prior to the state of the union speech, a poll of Americans from the Washington Post and ABC News found that:
  • 63% of Americans have either little no confidence Obama will make the right decisions.
  • 49% of respondents answered that Obama is trustworthy and honest and but a whopping 48% answered that the President of the united States is NOT honest and trustworthy.
  • 52% of the respondents said that Obama does not understand the problems of people like them, a finding that is up substantially from just two years ago.
  • 51% indicated that they felt Obama is not a strong leader. 
  • Obama’s disapproval rating came out at 50% with 41% of respondents disapproving strongly.
  • Only 23% of the respondents said they support him strongly. 
  • Overall, 50% of Americans have an unfavorable impression of the President.
What is amazing is that when Obama took office, his approval and likeability levels were in the unheard of 70-80% range. To have fallen so far and accomplished so little, especially since his party controlled Congress for the first two years of his Presidency, is also unheard of but not unexpected, given the state of the union and the economy.

3) Well, we now know that Americans think the country is on the wrong track and are not real happy about the President’s performance and role in that wrong track perception. But what do Americans think about the economy? According to the latest monthly consumer sentiment poll from the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey:
  • U.S. consumer sentiment slipped in January, mostly caused by lower expectations among lower- and middle-income families.
  • The overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 80.4, down from 82.5 in the December survey.
  • Not only was it down, it was below the median forecast of 83.5 among economists polled by Reuters.
  • The survey's tracking measure of current economic conditions fell to 95.2 from 98.6 and was substantially below a forecast of 98.5.
  • The survey's gauge of consumer expectations slipped to 70.9 from 72.1 and below a forecast of 74.2.
  • According to survey director Richard Curtin: "Upper-income households benefited from continued strong gains in income as well as increases in stock and home values. Low- and middle-income households were mainly concerned about lackluster growth in employment and income, and anticipated less improvement in long-term prospects for the economy."
So not only do we not like the direction of the country and the leadership of the President, we are not really crazy where the economy is and where it is going.

4) A Quinnipiac University opinion survey from early January found the following detailed results, and negative findings, relative to the Obama Presidency:
  • 53% of respondents disapprove of the President’s performance while 41% approve.
  • 49% of women disapprove of his performance while 44% approved and 58% of men disapprove while only 36% of men approved.
  • Across all income brackets and across all age brackets more respondents disapprove of Obama’s performance than those that approve of his performance.
  • Only 9% of Republicans approve of his performance, only 35% of Independents approve with 58% disapproving, while 81% of Democrats approve of his performance.
  • 49% of respondents said the President is not honest and trustworthy while 46% somehow said he was.
  • 51% of respondents said the President was not a strong leader while 46% said he was.
  • 50% of respondents said the President does not care about their needs and problems while 48% said he does.
  • He received a negative 61% negative rating for his handling of Obama Care, a negative 58% rating on his handling of the economy, a 60% negative rating for his handling of the Federal budget, a negative 51% for his handling of foreign policy, and in the one bright note, a positive 52% rating on his handling of terrorism.
That will do it for today, we will continue with the mood of the country tomorrow. But so far we know that, in general:
  1. Americans think the economy and the nation are heading in the wrong direction.
  2. Americans do not approve of the President’s overall job performance and his performance on most major issues.
  3. Americans do not find the President trustworthy, honest, or caring.
  4. Americans faith in the economic direction of the country is declining.
Otherwise, the state of the nation and our moods and hopes are in great shape.

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