In an Economy-Driven Election Confidence is its Worst Since '92

Consumer Confidence Just Three Points from Record Low

ANALYSIS by EMILY B. GUSKIN

Nov. 4, 2008—

Consumer confidence is its Election-Day worst since 1992, only 3 points from its low in 22 years of weekly ABC News polls.

ABC's Consumer Comfort Index stands at -48 on its scale of -100 to +100, very near its worst ever, -51 in May. The last time it languished this low for this long was after the 1990-91 recession, sealing George H.W. Bush's loss in 1992.

Click here for PDF with charts and data table.

Only 10 percent of Americans rate the national economy positively and 21 percent rate the buying climate positively, each 3 points from its record low. Forty-seven percent rate their own finances positively, 5 points from the low and below a majority for 15 weeks.

The economy was responsible for Bill Clinton's win in 1992 and bolsters Barack Obama this year. The ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll has found the economy far and away the top issue, and Obama leading John McCain in trust to handle it.

The CCI was -6 just before Election Day in 1988, -49 in 1992, -9 in 1996, soared to +28 in 2000 and was -5 in 2004.

The CCI has stagnated below -40 for 28 weeks straight, and below -45 for a month. With the global economic crisis underway, a steep seven-week drop in gasoline prices hasn't helped, except perhaps in keeping confidence from going lower still.

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

NATIONAL ECONOMY ??? Ten percent of Americans rate the economy as excellent or good; it was 8 percent last week. The highest was 80 percent on Jan. 16, 2000. The lowest was 7 percent in late 1991 and early 1992.

PERSONAL FINANCES ??? Forty-seven percent say their own finances are excellent or good; it was 49 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; it was 19 percent last week. The best was 57 percent on Jan. 16, 2000. The worst was 18 percent, Aug. 10 and 24, and two weeks ago.

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. 2, 2008. The results have a 3-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.

Click here for PDF with charts and data table.