How confident you feel about an economic recovery has less to do with your personal situation – such as how much money you make or whether you graduated from college – and more to do with how you identify politically.
In a new ABC/Washington Post poll out this week, 45 percent of Americans said they were “optimistic” that the jobs situation would improve over the next year, while 50 percent said they were ” pessimistic” about a recovery.
But, those who have a college degree aren’t any more hopeful about a turn-around than those with a high school education.
Forty-six percent of high school graduates think the job situation will improve by next year compared with 43 percent of college graduates.
And, to paraphrase the rapper Notorious B.I.G., more money can mean more problems. Those who make between $50,000 and $100,000/year are less assured that the jobs situation will improve (43 percent) than those who make $50,000 or less (50 percent).
Where the real optimism gap emerges, however, is among those who identify themselves as partisans. Among Democrats, 60 percent say they are optimistic that the jobs situation will improve compared with 69 percent of Republicans who say they are pessimistic. Those who identify as independents are a bit more doubtful than hopeful, but not by much. Forty-six percent identify as optimistic and 52 percent as pessimistic.
If you are a supporter of the Tea Party movement you are pessimistic (59 percent) that things will improve. If you oppose the Tea Party, you are optimistic that the jobs situation will turn around (57 percent).
If you voted for Obama in 2008, you are more likely to feel confident that things will improve. Those who voted for Sen. John McCain are overwhelmingly doubtful about a recovery – 71 percent don’t think the jobs situation will improve over the next year.
So what does this mean for 2012? The closer one identifies with a party or a movement the less likely that person is basing an opinion about the state of the American economy on his/her own personal situation and the more likely that opinion is based on political opinion.