Two new polls show Americans remain pessimistic about the economy — by far the key issue heading into the November presidential election.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that more than 80 percent of respondents still rate the national economy negatively.
The survey also found that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has now tied President Obama on who is most capable of fixing the economy. The two are even at 47 percent — and 55 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy.
More bad news for Obama: 30 percent of voters polled say they are worse off now than when Obama took office in January 2009, and just 16 percent say they are better off.
Another 53 percent say they are about the same, so the overwhelming majority, 83 percent, believe they are no better off now than they were at the beginning of the Obama administration.
“There is not a widespread sense that things would be better had Romney been president for the past three-plus years, but for the incumbent it is a critical measure,” the Post observed.
“On this question, Obama’s numbers continue to resemble those of George H.W. Bush, who lost his bid for re-election in 1992 amid a flagging economy.”
In another poll on economic issues, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, 51 percent of likely voters said they are so pessimistic about the federal government’s ability to fix the economy that they believe the government will go bankrupt before the federal budget is balanced. Just 36 percent are confident the budget will be balanced first, and 13 percent are not sure.
Democrats and Republicans differ sharply on the issue. Sixty percent of Democrats say the budget will be balanced before the government goes bankrupt, while 70 percent of Republicans think bankruptcy will occur before a balanced budget. Nearly 60 percent of voters not affiliated with either major party agree with Republicans.
Most tea party members, 78 percent, think the government will go bankrupt before the budget is balanced.
Another interesting finding of the Washington Post/ABC News poll: While Obama has tried to cast Romney’s record at Bain Capital as a negative, slightly more than half of poll respondents say his association with the firm is not a big factor in the campaign.
The poll also found that Obama’s lead among women has dwindled. Last month he held a 19 percentage point edge over Romney among women, but that lead is now just 7 percent.
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