With the financial market reeling from the collapse of Bear Stearns, public confidence in the national economy continues to plummet. Three in four Americans now rate the economy as at least somewhat bad - the highest percentage in more than 15 years - and the same number say they think it is getting worse, according to a new CBS News poll.
Sixty-six percent of Americans say the U.S. economy is now in recession, up 13 points from January. Just 2 percent of those surveyed say the economy is getting better, while 34 percent characterize the present economic situation as very bad.
A year ago, a majority of Americans thought the economy was in at least somewhat good condition. But now just 25 percent of Americans feel that way. That's the lowest percentage recorded since October 1992, just before President George W. Bush's father lost the presidential election to Bill Clinton.
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Only one in four Americans approve of Mr. Bush's handling of the economy, his lowest rating to date. Sixty-eight percent disapprove of how he's handling the economy, an all-time high. Only a slim majority of Republicans - 53 percent - still approve.
Twenty-nine percent of Americans say the economy is the issue they most want the presidential candidates to discuss. Twenty percent cite the war in Iraq and 12 percent cite health care.
More Americans believe the economy is getting worse than at any time since 1980, another election year in which the incumbent candidate lost. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents - as well as Americans of all income levels - are all pessimistic about the economy.
This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,067 adults nationwide interviewed by telephone March 15-18, 2008. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. A small oversample of African Americans was also conducted for this poll, for a total of 122 interviews among this group. The results were then weighted in proportion to the racial composition of the adult population in the U.S. Census.
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