PRINCETON, NJ -- The Gallup Economic Confidence Index was negative in all 50 states in the first half of 2012, but positive in the District of Columbia. West Virginia was by far the most negative, at -44. Minnesota edged out South Dakota and Maryland as the least negative state in the U.S., with an index score of -6, while the residents of the District of Columbia were solidly positive, at +29.
These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with more than 86,000 national adults, conducted from Jan. 2, 2012, through June 30, 2012. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is a composite of Americans' ratings of current U.S. economic conditions and their perceptions of the economy's direction. The index has a theoretical maximum of +100 (if all respondents rate the economy "excellent" or "good" and say it is getting better) and a theoretical minimum of -100 (if all rate the economy "poor" and say it is getting worse). Full state-level results for these questions can be found on page 2.
Nationally, the Gallup Economic Index averaged -21 at midyear, up from -37 in 2011. Eleven states had significantly above-average Economic Confidence Index scores, with about half of these located in the Midwest (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa), two in the East (Maryland and Massachusetts), and two (Virginia and Texas) in the South. Utah and Hawaii round out this group.
Nineteen states' scores were significantly below average, with a particularly large cluster located in the South, stretching from Kentucky to Florida. These are joined by Missouri in the Midwest, five states in the East, and four in the West.
Many of the states with the highest Economic Confidence Index scores thus far in 2012 -- Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, and Texas -- also have among the best job markets in the nation. The same goes for the District of Columbia. However, most of the states with the lowest economic confidence scores are not among the lowest for net job creation. The few that do appear near the bottom of both lists are West Virginia, Montana, and Rhode Island.
Economic confidence is a complex consumer attitude that reflects real-world economic factors, but is also sensitive to the U.S. political environment, with members of the current president's party typically expressing more confidence than members of the opposing party. This may partly explain the District of Columbia's substantially higher economic confidence, as party identification in the nation's capital is highly Democratic. Thus, it is not surprising that Gallup's state economic confidence map differs in many respects from Gallup's state job creation map.
States Show Improved Confidence in 2012
Economic confidence improved at least slightly in all the states plus the District of Columbia in the first half of 2012 compared with 2011. However, some showed more improvement than others. Confidence rose by 20 points or more in Washington D.C., South Dakota, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio. At the other extreme, confidence increased by five points in Arkansas, West Virginia, and Vermont, and by no more than 10 points in Wyoming, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi.
In general, the states showing the most improvement in early 2012 were those that were already among most positive in 2011, while those showing the least improvement were among the most negative.
Four states bucking this pattern were Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Maine. Ohio and Maine had below-average economic confidence in 2011, yet improved 20 and 21 points, respectively, in the first half of 2012. Michigan and New York had average economic confidence in 2011, yet both improved 20 points this year. Ohio is the only state of the four to jump categories, moving from below average in 2011 to average thus far in 2012.
Americans' confidence in the U.S. economy was somewhat better in the first half of 2012 than it was throughout 2011. However, Gallup's Economic Confidence Index remains more negative than positive in all 50 states, with Washington, D.C., standing out as a unique bright spot. Still, there is quite a range of confidence in the states, stretching from a slightly negative tilt in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Maryland -- all with index scores better than -10 -- to a significantly negative mood in West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, Wyoming, and Kentucky -- all with index scores of -33 or lower.
So far in the second half of 2012, Gallup has found a decline in economic confidence, with the Index dropping to -26 in July from -22 in June. If this continues, it could erase some of the gains the states posted in the first half of the year.
Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in Gallup.com stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:
Read more about Gallup's economic measures.
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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 2-June 30, 2012, with a random sample of 86,429 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 ±1 percentage point.
Margins of error for individual states are no greater than ±9 percentage points (for Alaska and the District of Columbia), and are ±3 percentage points in most states.
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.
The questions reported here were asked of a random half-sample of respondents each night on the Gallup Daily tracking survey.
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.