Consumer Confidence Near Low Point, With Little Optimism About Economy

The usual racial gap has been smaller this year and this week, with the index at -50 among whites and -46 among blacks; long-term, by contrast, blacks have been less positive by an average 27 points.

The Republican-Democratic gap, which has been narrower than usual this year, is wider this week, with Republicans at -39 vs. -54 for Democrats and -52 for independents. The 15-point gap this week compares with a 5-point gap this year, 18 points last year, 41 points in 2008 and 32 points long-term.

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

NATIONAL ECONOMY – Eight 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-four percent say their own finances are excellent or good; it was 47 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-four percent say it's an excellent or good time to buy things; it was 23 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 Feb. 14, 2010. The results have a 3-point error margin. The expectations question was asked of 500 respondents Feb. 3-14, 2010; 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.

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