For the first time since January 1994, a majority of Americans describe the economy as being in bad condition, a shift in public opinion over the past two weeks.
A CBS News nationwide telephone poll taken on July 22 and July 23 shows an even more dramatic change in the perception of the stock market. Two weeks ago, 47 percent described the market as being in good shape. Now, just 17 percent say that.
Investors and non-investors alike share the negative assessment of both the economy and the market. Investors are especially negative on the state of the market: 86 percent of them say the market is in bad shape.
Asked about the next three months, 48 percent said they expect the stock market to improve (although most didn't expect a big improvement); 22 percent expected no change; and another 22 percent said the market will go down.
Asked to predict the stock market's condition for next year, there was more optimism, with 72 percent expecting prices to go up and 18 percent expecting prices to go down.
|Condition of the U.S. Economy|
|Condition Of The Stock Market|
Some of the optimism for the market's future may simply be the reaction to the sharp market declines of the last two weeks, and the hope that the market has reached bottom. But there is less optimism about the future of the economy: 13 percent think the U.S. economy is getting better, 43 percent said it's getting worse, and another 43 percent said it's staying the same.
As for the state of the country overall, the percentage of Americans with positive evaluations continues to decline. Only 39 percent say things in the country are generally going in the right direction, and 53 percent say the country is headed down the wrong track, the first time that has happened since June 2001.
The continuing decline in the stock market appears to be taking a toll on the public's opinion of the economy and of President Bush's management of it. In just two weeks, there has been a 12 point drop in the percentage approving of the way President is handling the economy, and a nine point drop in the overall assessment of the way he is handling his job overall.
The poll shows a nearly even split between those who said they disapprove of Mr. Bush's handling of the economy - and those who say they approve. That approval rating on the economy is furthermore just one percentage point above Mr. Bush's lowest rating on that issue, last August before the beginning of the war on terrorism, when 43 percent said they approved of the president's economic policies.
|Bush's Handling Of The Economy|
While the President's overall approval rating is still well above his pre-September 11 low point, it too has dropped in the last few weeks, and is now 65 percent, down five points in the last week. Most of the drop comes from independents and Democrats. And for the first time since September 11, less than half of Democrats approve of the way the President is handling his job.
|Bush's Overall Job Rating|
As for President Bush's handling of the war on terrorism, 70 percent approved of his actions, compared to 77 percent in early July, and 20 percent disapproved, compared to 17 percent in early July.
This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample interviewed by telephone July 22-23, 2002. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the entire sample.
For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.