July 12, 2012

Obama Holds Lead; Romney Trails on Most Issues

Section 3: Perceptions of Economic News

The public’s perceptions of the tone of news about the economy have changed little over the past month, but are far more negative than they were earlier this year.

Currently, 55% say they have been hearing a mix of good and bad news about the economy these days, while 40% say the news has been mostly bad. This is largely unchanged from a month ago (57% mixed, 37% mostly bad). Only small percentages have said they are hearing mostly good economic news (4% now, 3% in June).

The news seemed better earlier in the year. In March, 62% said economic news was mixed and just 24% said it was mostly bad. About one-in-ten (11%) said that economic news was mostly good.

But things seem far better than last summer and fall. In August 2011 – shortly after the debt ceiling standoff in Washington – two-thirds (67%) said they were hearing mostly bad economic news.

The news about gas prices has shifted substantially in recent months.  As recently as March, 85% of Americans said they were hearing mostly bad news about gas prices – the worst of any sector of the economy at the time.  Today, just 31% say they are hearing mostly bad news while another 31% say the news about gas prices is mostly good, making it the most positive area of economic news.

By comparison, news about the job situation is far more negative. Currently, 51% say they are hearing mostly bad news about the job situation, little changed from June (55%), but up sharply from March (38%).

Perceptions of news about financial markets have improved since June, but are less positive than earlier this year. Currently, 35% say they are hearing mostly bad news about financial markets, down from 47% last month but up slightly from March (29%).

Perceptions of news about real estate values have changed little throughout 2012. Currently, 39% say they are hearing mostly bad news, 41% are hearing a mix of good and bad and 14% are hearing mostly good news.

Partisan Perceptions

As was the case in June, Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say they are hearing mostly bad news about the economy (54% vs. 27%). Independents largely mirror the public as a whole: 53% say the news has been mixed, 42% say it has been mostly bad and 3% say it has been mostly good.

Looking at individual economic sectors, Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say they are hearing mostly bad news about the jobs situation. Six-in-ten Republicans say this (60%), compared with 40% of Democrats. Just more than half of independents (53%) say this as well.

On the other hand, there are no significant partisan differences in perceptions of news about gas prices. About three-in-ten Republicans (30%), Democrats (29%) and independents (31%) say the news they have been hearing about gas prices has been mostly bad. Similar numbers in each group say recent news has been mostly good: 34% of Republicans say this, as do 36% of Democrats and 29% of independents.

Cite this publication: “Obama Holds Lead; Romney Trails on Most Issues.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (July 12, 2012) http://www.people-press.org/2012/07/12/obama-holds-lead-romney-trails-on-most-issues/, accessed on July 23, 2014.