Poll: Americans Becoming More Optimistic About Economy

A new CBS/New York Times poll finds that Americans have become more optimistic about the economy now than at any time during the recession.

The numbers: 41% say the economy is getting better, up from 33% in April. Only 15% say the economy is getting worse. President Obama’s approval rating on the economy has also improved in this poll, with 48% approving and 47% disapproving — Obama’s highest rating since this past November. The sample of American adults has a margin of error of ±3%.

From CBS’s analysis: “Most Democrats (77 percent) approve of the president’s handling the economy, while most Republicans disapprove (86 percent). Independents are divided: 46 percent approve, while 45 percent disapprove. Last month, more independents disapproved than approved of how Mr. Obama was handling the economy.”These numbers are important because the public’s perception of the economy has a dramatic effect on the political fortunes of the president and his party. As just one possible example, the economic outlook in CBS polling showed a noticeable decline in optimism between August 2009 and February 2010 — a period that saw Dems lose two governorships and the Massachusetts Senate seat. For example, the economy in particular was found to be damaging Obama’s numbers in January.

A recession also helped end the administration of President George H.W. Bush in 1992, with a solid economy helping Bill Clinton in 1996. And of course, the economic crash in late 2008 helped to clinch Barack Obama’s win — and that same crisis has bedeviled him ever since.