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Good News = Good Numbers
Even some Democrats concede the economy is getting better.


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Byron York

It appears the recent spate of good news about the economy has spurred an upturn in economic optimism in the country as a whole.

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A new Gallup poll, taken November 3 – 5, asked respondents, “Right now, do you think that economic conditions in the country as a whole are getting better or getting worse?” Fifty-three percent of those polled say conditions are improving, while 37 percent say they are getting worse (eight percent say they are the same, and two percent did not know).

The results are the latest in a line of steady improvement in the “getting better” category. When Gallup asked the question in late October, 47 percent said the economy was getting better, while 43 percent said it was getting worse. In early September, 40 percent said the economy was improving, while 50 percent said it was getting worse. And in early March, 23 percent said the economy was improving, while 67 percent said it was getting worse.

Breaking the numbers down by political party shows that even some Democrats–at least those who are not running for president–now say the economy is improving. Thirty-three percent of Democrats surveyed by Gallup say the economy is getting better, while 55 percent say it is getting worse.

Perhaps more important for the president’s reelection prospects, 51 percent of independents say the economy is improving, while 40 percent say it is getting worse. Among Republicans, 74 percent say the economy is improving, while 17 percent say it is getting worse.

The results are similar when broken down by approval or disapproval of the job George W. Bush is doing as president. Among those who disapprove of the president’s job performance, 33 percent say the economy is getting better, while 57 percent say it is getting worse. Among those who approve of the president’s performance, 71 percent say the economy is improving, while 20 percent say it is getting worse.

Looking at the results by general political ideology, 38 percent of people who consider themselves liberals say the economy is improving, while 52 percent say it is getting rose. Fifty-three percent of moderates say the economy is getting better, while 38 percent say it is getting worse. And 64 percent of conservatives say it is improving, while 26 percent say it is getting worse.

The poll results do not say that Americans believe the economy is in great shape. Indeed, when Gallup’s pollsters asked, “How would you rate economic conditions in this country today–as excellent, good, only fair, or poor?” just 30 percent said excellent or good. Forty-nine percent said only fair, and 21 percent said poor.

Nevertheless, the numbers suggest that many Americans–including one third of Democrats and nearly 40 percent of people who call themselves liberals–disagree with the gloomy assessments of the economy being offered by the Democratic candidates for president. The poll also suggests that if the news from the nation’s economy continues to improve, the candidates will have a harder and harder time making their case–even to their fellow Democrats.



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