Fourth Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll Finds Expectations of a Better 2010 Despite Pessimism About the Effect of Economic Policies on the Middle Class
Survey reveals middle class Americans feel ignored by elected officials and corporations and are split over economic policies one year into Obama presidency
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) and National Journal today announced the results of the fourth Heartland Monitor, the latest release in a groundbreaking series of surveys that has delivered new insights on how Americans are navigating the post-recession economy, their faith in key institutions and their concerns about the future.
This installment, which serves as a definitive portrait of the country's mood one year after President Obama's inauguration, finds growing dissatisfaction among Americans regarding the state of the country and the impact of economic policies on their lives.
"Americans are taking control of their financial lives in the face of continued economic uncertainty and concern over the country's direction," said Thomas J. Wilson, Allstate chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Almost half of consumers state they have made major cuts in spending, and 32 percent have withdrawn savings or pension funds to make ends meet. They also feel they are going it alone without much help from government or business. As a result, they are very interested in improving their financial expertise. Allstate has a responsibility to meet this need, and we will work to educate and empower middle class Americans to make good financial choices."
The latest survey finds 55 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track - the highest percentage yet in the Heartland Monitor series. In addition, President Obama's job approval rating has dipped to its lowest position in the series, to 47 percent, but 52 percent believe the country is beginning to move in the right direction because of his policies. Opinion on the administration's economic policies is divided, with Americans split over whether they have been ineffective while raising deficits (46 percent) or have prevented an even worse crisis and set the stage for recovery (43 percent).
Collectively, elected officials were regarded as being out of touch with the concerns of everyday Americans: 80 percent said government officials had done a fair or poor job of addressing financial issues and 60 percent said banks, investment companies and major corporations were the main beneficiaries of federal action, as opposed to middle class and low-income individuals (17 percent). Respondents were evenly divided over whether this was an issue of design (48 percent) or poor execution (46 percent).
Respondents maintained a cautious outlook about their own lives, with the country divided relatively closely between those who think their conditions will improve (37 percent), those who think they will worsen (20 percent), and a plurality who don't expect much change (41 percent). Large majorities placed a lot of trust in their family (64 percent) and themselves (74 percent) to help manage financial risk.
While trust in government, banks and corporations remained low, the survey found strong support for actions that major institutions could take to win back people's confidence. Solid majorities said they would have a lot more trust in elected officials if they focused more on making government programs more effective while reducing wasteful spending (64 percent) and were upfront about whom they meet with and who donates to their campaigns (58 percent). Large financial corporations, meanwhile, could win back trust by acknowledging mistakes, paying back bailout money, hiring more American workers and providing access to financial literacy programs.
"Hope was the great anthem for President Obama's 2008 campaign, but for many Americans these days, hope seems in very short supply," said Atlantic Media Political Director Ronald Brownstein. "The latest Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor poll underscores the long, long reach of this prolonged recession into all corners of American life - and the cost that it is imposing on public confidence in many of our economic leaders and institutions, from President Obama and Congress, to major corporations and the financial sector. In all, this incisive survey captures a season of discontent that has settled over America like a biting winter chill."
Notes to Editors
The fourth installment of the Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor poll was conducted by FD on January 3-7, 2010. Results are from a sample of 1,200 American adults. Questions asked of the full sample had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent. The margin of error on other questions varied based on the size of the subsample.
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer. Widely known through the "You're In Good Hands With Allstate®" slogan, Allstate is reinventing protection and retirement to help more than 17 million households insure what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow. Consumers access Allstate insurance products and services through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives in the U.S. and Canada, as well as via www.allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate®.
About National Journal Group
Since 1969, National Journal Group has provided insight for insiders through nonpartisan reporting on current political and policy issues as well as tools professionals need to do their jobs well. National Journal Group properties include National Journal, CongressDaily, NationalJournal.com, The Hotline, The Almanac of American Politics and Global Security Newswire. It partners with WETA to produce "Washington Week With Gwen Ifill and National Journal."
One of the most highly regarded consultancies in the communications industry, FD employs more than 750 staff and advises more than 1,000 clients worldwide through its hub offices in London and New York, as well as its network of wholly owned offices in Bahrain, Beijing, Bogota, Boston, Brussels, Cape Town, Chicago, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Manchester, Melbourne, Moscow, Panama City, Paris, San Francisco, Shanghai, Sydney and Washington, DC. With a 20- year history of advising clients in both the private and public sectors, FD's services include financial public relations, capital markets communications, public affairs, crisis and issues management and corporate, business-to-business and business-toconsumer communications. FD is also a market leader in M&A advisory work. FD is structured around specialist sector teams operating on an international basis, covering consumer industries, financial services, basic industries, business services, life sciences & healthcare, media, real estate, technology and telecommunications. FD is a division of FTI Consulting Inc. (NYSE: FCN), the global business advisory firm. For more information, please visit www.fd.com.
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