The weak economy and rising prices are high among voters’ concerns going into November’s presidential election, according to a new national poll.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans are concerned about maintaining their standard of living, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Many consumers find themselves struggling with rising costs of fuel, food and healthcare, so it’s not surprising that a separate poll released by ABC showed economic anxiety in the country is at its highest level in 27 years.
More than eight in 10 poll respondents said the U.S. has veered seriously off-track.
Overall, more than two-thirds of those surveyed said they were concerned about their ability to keep up their lifestyles. That’s a 17 percentage point increase since December, and it’s an increase that cuts across party lines and income levels.
A fifth of those surveyed cited the higher gas prices as the single most important economic issue. A third pointed to rising prices in general. Overall, two-thirds called rising gasoline prices a financial hardship.
In the poll, most voters blame big oil for high pump prices. Three in 10 said the oil companies or greed are the main cause of the rising costs.
Twenty percent pointed to market forces, while one in 10 blamed President Bush and slightly fewer — 9 percent —cited the OPEC oil cartel and other foreign producers as the problem.
"There’s no oil shortage in this country. There’s no gasoline shortage, and there hasn’t been for years,” said one respondent, who added that he believes multinational oil companies manipulate the markets.
Beyond gas costs, three in 10 voters polled said they were having trouble paying other household bills because of rising prices. Among that group, more than half were struggling with food costs.
And no wonder. The Labor Department reported on May 14 that food costs jumped 0.9 percent just in April.
Despite the widespread concern about fuel costs, Americans apparently are evenly divided over the idea of a federal gas tax holiday this summer. Forty-six percent of the respondents indicated they supported the idea and 47 percent opposed it.
Conducted May 8 to 11, the poll was a random national sample of 1,122 adults.
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