Confidence Up Among Americans, but Half to Chop Holiday Spending

September 26, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Financial Services | Retail & E-Commerce

Nearly half of Americans (44%) across all income levels intend to spend less on holiday gifts in 2008 than they did last year, according to a telephone poll from Reuters, conducted Sept. 11-13 by Zogby International.

Despite these reductions, the Reuters/Zogby Index, which measures American confidence, has increased to 96.3, up from 91.9 in August, as it continues to rebound from an all-time low of 87.7 in March.


The economy remains the top issue for likely voters, and a vast majority give US economic policy a negative rating. In the political arena, job-approval ratings for Congress are up slightly, while President George W. Bush’s approval ratings continue to decline.

Key economic findings:

  • 50% of likely voters say the economy is the most important issue in deciding their vote in the November presidential election, up slightly from 48% in August.
  • Far fewer likely voters listed issues other than the economy as most important, among them the threat of another attack on the United States (9%), healthcare (9%), the War in Iraq (7%), energy prices (6%), immigration (4%), the environment (3%), and other issues (10%).
  • Likely voters give Republican John McCain a slight, 47% to 45% edge over Democrat Barack Obama as the candidate they believe can best manage the US economy.
  • Dissatisfaction with US economic policy continues to increase, with 86% of likely voters who view the nation’s economic policy as “fair” or “poor,” a slight increase from 84% last month.
  • The number of Americans who give their personal financial situation a “fair” or “poor” rating has decreased slightly to 48%, down from 52% in August.

Likely voters are slightly less pessimistic about the direction the country is headed this month, with 66% who believe the nation is headed on the wrong track, compared with 70% in August. While strong majorities of Democrats (86%) and political independents (76%) view the country as headed in the wrong direction, just 38% of Republicans feel the same.

Key political findings:

  • Job approval ratings for Congress stand at 13%, rebounding slightly after hitting a record-low of 9% in August.
  • The Democratically controlled Congress earns positive ratings from 18% of Democrats, up from 12% last month.
  • Republican approval has also increased, to 10% from 8% in August.
  • ?Congressional job-approval marks received a slight boost from political independents this month, increasing to 10% from 6% in August.
  • President George W. Bush has experienced a slight decrease in his job approval ratings?- 28% now give the President positive job approval marks, compared with 29% who rated his job performance as “excellent” or “good” in August.
  • Positive job ratings for Bush from fellow Republicans have increased to 61%, up from 56% in August and 46% in July.
  • Favorable ratings from Democrats have fallen to 4%, from 8% last month.
  • Among political independents, 18% now give the President positive job marks, down from 22% who said the same in August.

About the Index: The Reuters/Zogby Index includes 10 poll questions that gauge perception of the state of the country and the economy. The telephone survey of 1,008 likely voters nationwide was conducted Sept. 11-13, 2008, and was completed as concerns escalated in the financial industry, including the bankruptcy of investment bank Lehman Brothers and the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America.


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