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WRAL News poll: Economy weighs on voters' minds

Posted October 2, 2012

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— The sputtering economy is the dominant national issue in voters' minds, but they give a range of responses in a new WRAL News poll as to where the country is headed.

SurveyUSA polled 641 registered voters statewide between Saturday and Monday and found that more than three-quarters cite the economy as the biggest issue facing the U.S. No other issue got more than the 9 percent response given to health care.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

"This points to what the campaigns have been talking about and what the pundits have been talking about – economy, economy, economy," said David McLennan, a political science professor at William Peace University in Raleigh.

The first debate between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday night will focus on domestic issues like the economy.

"I think where the lines are going to be drawn in the debate and heading for the next five weeks is, what are the plans you're going to put out – both Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama – to get Americans back to work," McLennan said.

Four years ago, the unemployment rate in North Carolina was at 6.6 percent and rising amid the global economic collapse. Although economists say the nationwide recession ended months ago, the state continues to struggle with a jobless rate close to 10 percent.

John Agusta, owner of Music Go Round in Cary Voters optimistic, pessimistic over economy

"This economy's got a lot of people down right now," said John Agusta, the owner of Music Go Round, a Cary store that buys and resells musical instruments and equipment.

Agusta said this is worst year he's seen in seven years at the store – sales are down as people hold off on buying a drum set or amplifier – so he plans to close it.

"It probably won't really hit me until the last day, when we actually shut the door and lock it up," he said Tuesday. "I'm scared. We're living month to month, our family right now. Every month, I wonder how are we going to pay the mortgage."

Agusta can identify with the 45 percent of people polled who say they are worse off financially than they were four years ago. Twenty-three percent said they are better off than in 2008, while 31 percent said their situation is about the same now as it was then.

Hallot Parson, owner of Escazu Artisan Chocolates in Raleigh, is among those who count himself better off. The chocolatier has grown from six to 11 employees in recent years and is looking for space to expand.

"We've had pretty steady growth, but (in) the last year and a half, it's definitely spiked," Parson said. "We're really optimistic about the future. Making another move is a big financial investment, and we wouldn't do it if we didn't think it was going to pay off."

Forty-four percent of those polled share his optimism, saying they believe North Carolina's economy will get stronger over the next year. Only 9 percent said they think the state economy will slide backward, while 33 percent said it will likely remain about the same.

In a WRAL News poll conducted in March, 34 percent said the economy would be stronger in one year, while 19 percent said it would be weaker.

"We are slightly down in terms of the total number of jobs, and we're not quite back to where we were pre-recession," North Carolina State University economist Mike Walden said, "but I think what people look at is recent history. I think people are most influenced by what's happening very recently."

With Election Day five weeks away, voters don't really trust either party to boost the economy. Forty-six percent said they thought the Democrats would do a better job, while 45 percent said prefer Republicans on economic issues.

"I will be voting for change myself," Agusta said. "You got to do what you got to do right now."

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  • PanthersFan45 Oct 3, 2012

    "WRAL News poll: Economy weighs on voters' minds"

    If there is ANY truth at all in this article then Romney and McCrory should have an excellent chance at winning in this state. Unemployment is on the rise and creeping towards 10%.

  • CastIronEgret Oct 3, 2012

    Rich people who can buy chocolate can still buy chocolate. Middle-class people who can only afford used musical instruments can't even make those purchases now when they could a few years ago. I bought my son's instrument from that store, and I'm sad to see it close.

  • bacchianm Oct 3, 2012

    Vote Obama for a promising socialist future for Amerika!

  • br549znc Oct 3, 2012

    Things will get better if Obama is voted out. Worse if he is re-elected.

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Oct 3, 2012

    That 23% who are better off are the union workers who benefitted from the bailouts, and the new IRS agents. The millions of Americans that Obama added to the food stamp roles certainly aren't better off; and neither am I. I suppose I ought to be grateful to still have a job, but if Obama gets reelected, that too is in question.

  • WooHoo2You Oct 3, 2012

    tigo7,

    -we only have a chance to get back on track if you vote obama out and then stay diligent about watching how every elected official votes!

    So going back to Bush polices that created 2 recessions (well 3 if you count the post 9/11 one) will fix everything?

    - Now VOTE ROMNEY/RYAN for a chance.

    So a guy who claims he is against everything he did as governor and another who thinks ‘selfishness’ is a good trait?

    - If you doubt what obama has in mind for the USA, see Obama 2016.

    So if I make a movie about how Romney is a leprechaun that makes it true?

  • whatelseisnew Oct 2, 2012

    "Forty-four percent of those polled share his optimism, saying they believe North Carolina's economy will get stronger over the next year. Only 9 percent said they think the state economy will slide backward, while 33 percent said it will likely remain about the same."

    If Obama is re-elected it will slide backwards. On the plus side though, he will continue to supply handouts for as long as they can get away with the ridiculous monetary policies that Bernacke is following. The bad side of that is, lower value to the dollar and ever higher debt.

  • tigo7 Oct 2, 2012

    we only have a chance to get back on track if you vote obama out and then stay diligent about watching how every elected official votes! Now VOTE ROMNEY/RYAN for a chance. If you doubt what obama has in mind for the USA, see Obama 2016.