It appears the optimism that often accompanies the beginning of a new year has permeated the American consciousness -- at least when it comes to the economy. The majority of Americans believe the worst of the nation's economic woes are over, according to a national poll conducted by Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Fifty-four percent of Americans said the country has put the worst of the recession behind it, according to the poll, released Wednesday. Still, a sizable chunk -- 39% -- said they expect the worst is yet to come, while 7% were unsure. The poll has a margin of error of 3%.
The latest findings are a stark contrast to those Marist released just a month ago, when 53% thought more bad economic times were ahead, 39% thought the worst had passed and 8% were unsure.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
"Americans are beginning to see the light at the end of the economic tunnel," said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in a written statement. "But, they still think there's a long way to go."
Most Democrats (74%) and a majority (58%) of independents said the worst of the country's troubling economic times are over. But a slight majority of Republicans (52%) still see difficult times ahead, while 43% of GOP voters are positive about the country's economic future.
The poll also found that despite their views on the future of the U.S. economy, 71% of those polled believe the nation is still in recession. Of the remainder, 24% said they don't believe America is in recession and 5% were unsure. A month ago when Marist asked the same question, 79% thought the country was in a recession, 19% said it wasn't and 2% were unsure.
The Marist poll also showed good news for President Obama. Fewer Americans now disapprove of the president's approach to the economy compared to November, when Marist last asked the question. The latest findings show that 48% disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy, 44% approve, and 8% are unsure. In Marist's previous survey, a majority (55%) disapproved, 42% approved and 4% were unsure.
Not surprisingly, 60% of voters who believe the worst of the nation's economic woes are over approve of the president's handling of the economy, while 75% of those who think there is more bad news to come disapprove of Obama's performance.
The Marist poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 adults earlier this month, showed that most still don't blame Obama for the country's economic troubles. Sixty-three percent of registered voters said Obama inherited them from his predecessor, while 25% said they were a result of his own policies. Twelve percent were unsure.
When Marist last reported on this question in its Nov. 29 survey, similar proportions held these views: 65% thought the president inherited the nation's economic conditions, 28% attributed them to the president's policies and 8% percent were unsure.