Confidence is Mired; Expectations, Less Glum

The CCI is -7 among people with the highest incomes but -79 among those with the lowest, -36 among those who've attended college vs. -81 among high school dropouts (matching the low), -42 among men while -53 among women, -38 among homeowners compared with -71 among renters (the worst since July), and -47 among whites vs. -59 among blacks. This week's 12-point racial gap again is narrower than usual – it's averaged 28 points long-term.

Partisan differences remain, with the index at -34 among Republicans vs. -52 among Democrats and -55 among independents (the worst since July). That 18-point Republican-Democratic gap is much smaller than last year's average difference, 41 points, and the long-term difference in data since 1990, 32 points.

Here's a closer look at the three components of the ABC News CCI:

NATIONAL ECONOMY – Eleven percent of Americans rate the economy as excellent or good, the same as last week. The highest was 80 percent Jan. 16, 2000. The worst was 4 percent Feb. 8, 2009.

PERSONAL FINANCES – Forty-two percent say their own finances are excellent or good; it was 44 percent last week. The best was 70 percent, last reached in January 2000. The worst was 39 percent June 28 and 21, 2009.

BUYING CLIMATE – Twenty-five percent say it's an excellent or good time to buy things; it was 27 percent last week. The best was 57 percent on Jan. 16, 2000. The worst was 18 percent, last reached Oct. 19, 2008.

METHODOLOGY – Interviews for the ABC News Consumer Comfort Index are reported in a four-week rolling average. This week's results are based on telephone interviews among a random national sample of 1,000 adults in the four weeks ending Oct. 11, 2009. The results have a 3-point error margin. The expectations question was asked of 500 respondents Sept. 30-Oct. 11, 2009; that result has a 4.5-point error margin. Field work by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.

The index is derived by subtracting the negative response to each index question from the positive response to that question. The three resulting numbers are added and divided by three. The index can range from +100 (everyone positive on all three measures) to -100 (all negative on all three measures). The survey began in December 1985.

ERRATA – A software problem at ICR created errors in crosstabulated results by income group and marital status in data Aug. 30 to Oct. 18. The CCI overall and in other crosstabulations was not affected. This report has been updated with corrected results by income group and marital status.

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