Harris Poll: Wiser but Unbowed (extended)

How has the boom/bust economy of recent years affected Americans' perennial optimism? A BusinessWeek/Harris Poll of 1,022 adults, conducted July 20-25, found that most Americans believe the good times will return soon. Still, this outlook is tempered by a sense that the Brave New World of technology may not be quite the panacea it was once thought to be. Here's the complete poll (a shorter version was included in the print edition):

Now, for the turnaround

How optimistic or pessimistic are you that the U.S. can avoid a lengthy downturn marked by more large-scale job layoffs, further weakness in the stock market, and a decline in Americans' living standards?

      Very optimistic       13%                 Very pessimistic    8%
      Somewhat optimistic   50%                 Not Sure/Refused    7%
      Somewhat pessimistic  23%
      

Muddling along

On a scale from 1 to 7, where 7 means "The country's economy is extremely strong", 4 means "The economy is neither growing nor shrinking," and 1 means "The country is in a severe recession", where do you think the country is headed?

      1       2       3       4       5       6       7       Not Sure/Refused
      9%      5%      18%     31%     23%     7%      3%             4%
      

Acting responsibly

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements--do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree?

Investors must be willing to bear greater financial risks to assure higher return on investments

           STRONGLY     SOMEWHAT     SOMEWHAT    STRONGLY     NOT SURE/
            AGREE        AGREE       DISAGREE    DISAGREE     REFUSED
             29%          41%           17%         8%           5%
      

The federal government should take a more activist role in assuring economic growth

           STRONGLY     SOMEWHAT     SOMEWHAT    STRONGLY     NOT SURE/
            AGREE        AGREE       DISAGREE    DISAGREE     REFUSED
             39%          33%           16%         8%           3%
      

People got too carried away with the promise of technology to improve their lives

           STRONGLY     SOMEWHAT     SOMEWHAT    STRONGLY     NOT SURE/
            AGREE        AGREE       DISAGREE    DISAGREE     REFUSED
             39%          35%           15%         9%           2%
      
      

Shakier now than before...

Are you more or less confident in the economy today than you were a year ago?

      More confident                          24
      Less confident                          60
      No difference                           15
      Not Sure/Refused                         2
      

...But the future is ours

How confident are you that after the economic downturn ends, America can return to rapid economic growth, rising incomes, and good job opportunities?

      Very confident      21%        Not at all confident   5%
      Somewhat confident  55%        Not Sure/Refused       2%
      Not very confident  17%
      

What about your kids' tomorrow?

Do you expect your children will have a better life than you have had, a worse life, or a life about as good as yours?

                         July 2001   July 2000
      Better life           42          50
      Worse life            17          15
      About as good         32          26
      No children            4           5
      Not sure/Refused       5           3
      

A question of leadership

How would you rate the job these people or groups are doing?

                                     PRETTY     ONLY              NOT SURE/
                       EXCELLENT      GOOD      FAIR     POOR     REFUSED
      
      President
      Bush                10%          36%       32%      16%        6%
      
      Democrats in the
      U.S. Congress       2%           30%       43%      14%        10%
      
      Republicans in the
      U.S. Congress       3%           31%       42%      14%        11%
      
      Federal Reserve
      Board Chairman
      Alan Greenspan      12%          41%       24%       9%        14%
      
      Leaders of
      American Business   4%           32%       40%       15%       10%
      
      

On privatizing Social Security

President Bush supports partial privatization of Social Security, which he would accomplish by letting individuals invest a portion of payroll taxes in stocks and other investments, with the goal to raise investment returns and assure a better retirement system. How strongly do you support or oppose this proposal?

      Strongly support    26%
      Somewhat support    30%
      Somewhat oppose     17%
      Strongly oppose     22%
      Not Sure/Refused     5%
      

Which of the following statements comes closest to your views?

      I support the privatization of Social Security more
      today due to the current state of the economy         39%
      
      I oppose the privatization of Social Security more
      today due to the current state of the economy         34%
      
      No difference                                         20%
      
      Not Sure/Refused                                       7%
      
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