Are You Better Off Today Than When Obama Took Office? More Americans Say Yes: Poll

 @DanRivoli on March 13 2012 12:05 PM

Americans may be personally feeling the U.S. economic recovery, as more say they are better off today than they were in 2009 when Barack Obama took office, according to a new poll.

A recent Bloomberg National Poll showed 38 percent of Americans surveyed said they are in a better situation now, an increase from September, when 27 percent felt that way. Still, 36 percent say they are worse off and a quarter feel their situation is about the same. Americans are also hopeful about the economy, as 37 percent say there are signs of improvement.

For Obama's re-election prospects to improve, Americans will have to feel the economic recovery for themselves. The sentiment of whether one feels better or worse off is powerful in presidential politics; Ronald Reagan famously asked in 1980 if Americans felt better after four years of President Jimmy Carter, who lost reelection.

Despite a growing feeling of an economy on the rebound, it is moving at a snail's pace with a stalled 8.3 percent unemployment rate -- a top concern for most Americans. The poll said 45 percent feel cautious about the economy because nothing is really happening.

Even if better days seem like they are on the horizon for many Americans, there is dissatisfaction with the direction the country is headed. More than half -- 61 percent - said the U.S. is on the wrong track, compared to 31 percent who said the country is moving in the right direction.

But that figure may not be all bad news for Obama. The poll shows that he avoids blame for rising gas prices; 66 percent said oil companies and Middle East nations taking advantage of turmoil in the region are to blame for high gas prices caused by tensions in Iran. Meanwhile, less than a quarter pinned high gas prices on Obama administration energy policies.

More Americans also support economic policies Obama has pushed. To create jobs, more than half said government should invest in infrastructure, education and alternative energy, while 41 percent said businesses would have more confidence to hire if the government cut spending and taxes.

Bloomberg conducted the poll March 8 - 11 based on interviews with 1,002 U.S. adults. The poll has a 3.1 percent margin of error.

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