HAMDEN, CT - American voters say 64 - 30 percent that reducing unemployment is more important than reducing the federal budget deficit, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Even Republicans say 58 - 38 percent that reducing unemployment is more important.
The U.S. remains in a recession, 79 percent of voters tell the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll, compared to 74 percent who felt that way in May and 71 percent who said so in May of 2008, when the economy began its slide.
American voters say 52 - 44 percent the economy is not beginning to recover. Only 23 percent say the economy is getting better, while 31 percent say it is getting worse and 44 percent see no change. In May, 32 percent of voters thought the economy was getting better, while 24 percent said it was getting worse and 43 percent saw no change.
"The public seems to be reassessing the view held through the winter and spring, when they thought economic conditions were lousy but could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now they aren't seeing that light," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
While 41 percent of American voters trust President Barack Obama to handle the economy, 42 percent say they trust congressional Republicans more. Independent voters, a key voting bloc, favor congressional Republicans 42 - 35 percent. Voters disapprove 56 - 39 percent of the way President Obama is handling the economy, with independents giving him a thumbs down 61 - 34 percent.
The good news for Obama is that by 53 - 25 percent they blame former President George W. Bush more than Obama for the current economic conditions, compared to blaming Bush 55 - 20 percent in a January Quinnipiac University survey.
"When a majority, albeit a small one, doesn't think that the economy is even beginning to recover; when 79 percent think we are still in recession and 75 percent say the economy is going nowhere - or going down - it is difficult to conclude that the country thinks the worst is behind us," said Brown. "Wall Street may be debating whether the country is at risk of a double-dip recession, but Main Street thinks the original one never ended. So far voters blame Bush more than Obama, but it's not clear how long that view will last."
While voters want more jobs more than they want deficit reduction, they say 49 - 45 percent that Obama is being irresponsible by spending too much government money. And voters say 53 - 39 percent that government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.
There is a political and racial tilt in the numbers: Democrats say 42 - 14 percent the economy is getting better and see a recovery 66 - 30 percent. Republicans say it is getting worse 41 - 9 percent and not recovering 69 - 27 percent. Independents say the economy is worsening 37 - 18 percent and not recovering 56 - 39 percent.
Only 21 percent of whites, 42 percent of blacks and 28 percent of Hispanics see the economy improving, while 40 percent of whites, 68 percent of blacks and 52 percent of Hispanics think the recovery is underway. But, there is no difference by party on whether the country is in recession, with 83 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of independents and 75 percent of Democrats saying so.
"To a considerable degree, how Americans view the economy and which way it is going depends on party and race," said Brown. "By comparison, the gender and age and even income gaps on these questions are smaller."
Voters split 33 - 34 percent on whether Obama's policies have helped rather than hurt the economy. By 41 - 36 percent they believe those policies will help the economy in the future.
Voters say 30 - 14 percent that Obama's policies have hurt rather than helped their personal finances. Voters also say 36 - 26 percent that his policies will hurt their finances in the future, while 35 percent see no difference.
From July 13 - 19, Quinnipiac University surveyed 2,181 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.1 percentage points.
The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed- http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter