WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Independents' economic confidence improved four percentage points, to -20, in October, the highest monthly level of confidence among this group since 2008. Democrats also saw a gain of four points last month, to 27, a four-year high. Republicans' economic confidence held steady at -59, tied with September for the lowest monthly score of the year.
Partisans' opinions of the economy have become more polarized in the two months leading up to the election, with an 86-point gap separating Republicans' and Democrats confidence in October -- the largest party divide of the year and a significant increase from January's 43-point gap.
Democrats on a weekly basis have held net positive economic views since the end of January, while Republicans' negativity has increased. Independents have held the middle ground, but their economic confidence has grown less negative since early September.
The improvements in Democrats' and independents' economic confidence contributed to a two-point uptick in the overall monthly Gallup Economic Confidence Index in October. The index averaged -17 last month, tying May 2012 for the highest reading since Gallup began Daily tracking in 2008.
Americans' Economic Outlook Improves Significantly
The growth in economic confidence last month reflects improvement in both components of the index -- one of which assesses current economic conditions and the other that assesses the nation's economic outlook.
Americans' net economic optimism -- that is, the percentage saying the economy is getting better minus the percentage saying it is getting worse -- improved significantly to -10 in October, up from -13 in September. This is the most positive economic outlook score since the inception of Gallup tracking. Americans continue to be more likely to say the economy is getting worse than better -- 53% vs. 43% respectively.
Net perceptions of current economic conditions -- that is, the percentage rating the economy "excellent" or "good" minus the percentage calling it "poor" -- are now -24, up two points from September. Sixteen percent of Americans now say the economy is excellent or good, while 40% say it is poor.
Improvements in economic confidence seen this year have primarily been the result of improved views of the economy held by Democrats. In the two months prior to the election, however, the improvement in the economic views of independents, a key voting bloc, also contributed significantly to the rise in the monthly Gallup Economic Confidence Index. While the improvement in independents' economic confidence may be a positive sign for President Barack Obama's re-election chances, the overwhelming majority of Americans still say current economic conditions are fair or poor, and more than half say the economy is getting worse rather than better.
Positive economic news over the past two months, such as unemployment rates moving below 8.0% -- as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Gallup have reported -- likely have contributed to Americans' improved assessments of the economy and of the economic outlook. It remains to be seen whether the election's outcome will affect Americans' economic confidence.
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:
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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking from Oct. 1-31, 2012, with a random sample of 13,449 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
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.
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.