PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans become progressively less positive about economic conditions the farther away from home they look. Forty-nine percent rate economic conditions in their local area as excellent or good, but that drops to 25% when rating the U.S. economy, and to 13% when assessing the world as a whole.
These data, based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted June 11-12, reinforce the general conclusion that Americans are more positive about things at their personal, local level than they are about things "out there" in a broader context.
Significantly more Americans rate economic conditions in their local area as excellent or good than rate them as poor, by a 34-percentage-point margin. Americans remain in positive territory when rating the economy in their state (+15), but shift to a net negative position on the U.S. overall, with poor ratings surpassing excellent/good ratings by five points. Americans' ratings of the national economy are more positive than what Gallup finds when Americans are asked about the U.S. economy in isolation, suggesting that asking first about local and state conditions prompts a more positive view of the national economy.
Previous Gallup research has shown that Americans are not paying close attention to the economic crisis in Europe, a finding underscored in this survey by the 17% who do not give a response when asked to rate the economic situation in Europe. Still, the ratings Americans do give concerning Europe are quite negative, with the "poor" percentage outweighing the "excellent/good" by a 22-point margin. Americans are marginally more negative about the world as a whole.
Americans in the West Are the Most Negative About Their States' Economies
Americans in the West are substantially more negative about economic conditions in their state than are people living in the other three regions. Since California dominates the Western region of the country on a population basis, these low ratings most likely reflect Californians' concerns about the parlous economy in their state.
In contrast, Americans' ratings of economic conditions in their local areas do not differ substantially across regions. Even those in the East -- with the highest net score of +41 for their local areas -- are only somewhat more positive than those in the other regions of the country.
Republicans Most Negative About Economic Conditions Everywhere
Republicans are more negative than independents and Democrats across all five places tested in the poll, particularly in their views of the economy in Europe. For complete results for each question by party, see page 2.
These data align with previous Gallup research that finds Republicans are more negative about the national economy than Democrats or independents, a state of affairs usually attributed to the fact that a Democrat resides in the White House. This hypothesis is bolstered by the finding that Republicans were more positive about the national economy than independents or Democrats when George W. Bush was president.
It is possible that Republicans' negativity associated with the current Democratic president extends to their views of the economy across the board, or it may be that other characteristics of Republicans are responsible for their negative views. Gallup has not asked these questions in this fashion previously, so it is not possible to compare these results with the pre-2009 days when Republicans controlled the presidency.
Americans are significantly more positive about economic conditions in their local area and state than they are about the economy in the U.S. In turn, their ratings of the U.S. economy are more positive than their ratings of economic conditions in Europe and in the world as a whole.
This local positivity bias is not uncommon in surveys, but in this context suggests that the average American is not in as dire straits economically as would be thought based on national economic confidence ratings alone. These data are in line with previous research showing that Americans rate their personal financial situations more positively than they rate the national economic situation.
The fact that Americans believe the U.S. is in better shape than Europe or the rest of the world may provide some comfort to those worried about the impact of a struggling U.S. economy on consumer confidence. Of course, in today's global economy, no single nation's economy performs in isolation, but Americans' more positive views of the U.S. economy may help explain why Americans are not as concerned about the dire economic situation in Europe as some might expect.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 11-12, 2012, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,019 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.