Vote in Congress Raises Concern About a Deeper Economic Decline

Poll: 88 percent concerned action in Congress could worsen economic downturn.

ByABC News
September 30, 2008, 9:52 AM

Sept. 30, 2008— -- Americans overwhelmingly are concerned that Congress' rejection of a financial rescue plan could lead to a more severe economic decline in this country. And the public divides about evenly on whether or not the government ultimately will be able to prevent it.

Yet registered voters at the same time also divide about evenly on the bailout plan itself. Barely more than half are ready to call the situation a "crisis," though nearly all the rest call it a serious problem. And while a narrow majority is pessimistic about the economy's future over the next year, six in 10 remain optimistic about their own family's finances.

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Eighty-eight percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll, conducted Monday night, say they're concerned the action in Congress could worsen an economic downturn; 51 percent are "very" concerned about it.

With the administration and Congressional leaders saying they'll take up the issue again, 51 percent are confident the government's efforts ultimately will prevent the country's financial situation from getting worse. But nearly as many, 47 percent, lack that confidence. And a mere 6 percent are "very" confident of success.

Nonetheless, as noted, voters divide on the plan itself ¬– using up to $700 billion to shore up failing financial institutions – with 45 percent in favor, 47 percent opposed. (Contrary to the vote pattern in Congress, support is higher among Republicans, 55 percent, than Democrats, 42 percent.) Registered voters narrowly, by a 6-point margin, think the plan would have done too much to help financial institutions that got into trouble, and by much broader margins think it would have done too little to help the economy, and especially, to assist ordinary Americans.

By 2-1, 44-21 percent, the Republicans in Congress are seen as mainly responsible for rejection of the plan. Blame for the current financial situation more broadly is widely cast, falling most heavily on George W. Bush (25 percent), followed by the financial institutions themselves (18 percent); 8 percent blame the federal government overall, 8 percent Congress.