Only 14% of Americans feel more secure about their financial situation compared with last year, while 41% say they feel less secure, 41% feel the same as last year; at end of 2010, 19% felt more secure, 39% felt same as previous year: Harris Interactive

NEW YORK , January 5, 2012 () – As the New Year dawns, it is a time when many look to the upcoming months full of optimism and hope. Unfortunately, when it comes to economic expectations this optimism may not be felt this year. When asked to compare to last year, just 14% of Americans say they feel more secure about their financial situation while two in five (41%) say they feel less secure and 41% say they feel the same as last year. At the end of 2010, one in five U.S. adults (19%) said they felt more secure while 42% felt less secure; 36% felt the same as the previous year.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,237 adults surveyed online between December 5 and 12, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

As this is an election year, it's interesting to see how these feelings of security, or lack of it, break down by political party. Over half of Republicans (55%) say they feel less secure while 7% say they feel more secure. Democrats are slightly more optimistic about what the current year will hold as one in five (20%) feel more secure and 28% feel less secure; half (49%) of Democrats feel the same as last year. For Independents, over two in five (43%) feel less secure and 14% feel more secure.

A look at household finances

One in five Americans (19%) ended 2011 saying they expected their household's financial condition to be better in the next six months, half (53%) believe it will remain the same and 28% believe it will be worse. Last January, as 2011 dawned, over one-quarter (27%) believed their household's financial situation would be better in the coming six months, 27% believed it would be worse and under half (46%) believed it would be about the same.

Again, looking at political party, Republicans are more pessimistic than Democrats are about the coming six months. Just one in ten Republicans (9%) believes their household's financial condition will be better compared to 30% of Democrats. Among Independents, one-third (33%) believe the financial condition of their household will be worse in the next six months while 17% believe it will be better.

President Obama's handling of the economy

This year brings the presidential election and how people perceive President Obama's handling of the economy will have a large impact on how he does in November. As 2011 ended, one-quarter of Americans (25%) gave the President positive ratings on his handling of the economy while 75% gave him negative ratings. In November, 22% gave President Obama positive marks while 78% gave him negative ones.

So What?

In 1992, as Bill Clinton was running for election, his campaign came up with the one mantra they would use throughout the general election - "it's the economy, stupid." The thought was that people were hurting and as long as the campaign could show their candidate had answers to help, they would prevail. They were right and it just proved something long known in politics - people vote with their wallets. This election will be more of the same and people are hurting. President Obama needs to shore up his economic approval number to have a chance of prevailing in the general election.

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 5 and 12, 2011 among 2,237 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

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