Sharp partisan differences remain: The index is -70 among Democrats, the lowest on record, -54 among independents and -22 among Republicans, who tend to be better off.
Here's a closer look at the three components of the ABC News CCI:
NATIONAL ECONOMY – Seven percent of Americans rate the economy as excellent or good, tying the previous low, 7 percent in late 1991 and early 1992; it was 9 percent last week. The highest was 80 percent on Jan. 16, 2000.
PERSONAL FINANCES – Forty-four percent say their own finances are excellent or good; it was 45 percent last week. The best was 70 percent, last reached in January 2000. The worst was 42 percent on March 14, 1993.
BUYING CLIMATE – Twenty-one percent say it's an excellent or good time to buy things; same as last week. The best was 57 percent on Jan. 16, 2000. The worst was 18 percent on Oct. 19 and Aug. 24 of this year.
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 Nov. 16, 2008. The results have a 3-point error margin. The expectations question was asked of 500 respondents Nov. 5-16, 2008; 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.