As Election Looms, Poll Finds Fewer Americans Think Economy in Poor Shape

Americans' attitude towards the state of the economy is slowly improving ahead of the presidential election on November 3, a new poll has found.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that since April, the proportion of the 1,108 adults polled who described the economy as "bad" has reduced by 11 percentage points, from 71 percent to 60 percent.

The biggest drop off of people describing the economy as "bad" happened between May and June when numbers dropped from 70 percent to 63 percent as states began to reopen from the pandemic lockdowns.

President Donald Trump regularly polls ahead of his Democratic rival Joe Biden on the economy, the number one issue among voters. Signs of growing optimism about the economy, which collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic, are good for Trump.

The poll also showed that 43 percent think the economy will improve in the next year, about the same as the AP-NORC survey found in July. Alongside this, fewer people expect things to get worse, and the drop is a bipartisan one.

The number of Democrats who expect the economy to get worse decreased from 47 percent to 39 percent. Fourteen percent of Republicans think the national economy will decline, down from 21 percent in July.

Most Americans believe things are heading in the wrong direction in their country, with 72 percent sharing that view, though fewer expect things to deteriorate than in a previous survey. Both Democrats and Republicans are less pessimistic in their outlook.

Thirty-six percent of Democrats expect things to get worse in the next year, down from 50 percent in July, while the number of Republicans who thought the same dropped from 28 percent to 18 percent.

The poll was conducted September 11 to 14 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

The results come after news that the U.S. economy is showing some improvement, with a rebound in jobs numbers and household spending on the up since the crash due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell noted in remarks on Tuesday that the path ahead is still "highly uncertain" and that the economy remains far from where it was.

He said, in prepared testimony to the House financial services committee, that Fed officials remain committed to "do what we can, for as long as it takes, to ensure that the recovery will be as strong as possible, and to limit lasting damage to the economy."

While sentiment is improving, Congress is still at an impasse on further support for those facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, such as unemployment or reduced hours.

Talks for another stimulus bill, including a second check, have been stuck for over a month now, and face further delays as lawmakers debate a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Supreme Court.

Senate Republicans and the White House had rejected the House Democrats' $3 trillion bill, arguing it was too broad in scope and a partisan wishlist of spending.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a $2.2 trillion compromise in August, but Senate GOP leaders instead pushed ahead with a $650 billion "skinny" package that the Democrats blocked last week.

Jerome Powell
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on oversight of the Treasury Department's and Federal Reserve's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response on Capitol Hill on September 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Powell said the path ahead for the economy is still "highly uncertain". Joshua Roberts/Pool/Getty Images