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News > Jobs & Economy
Confidence holds before election
Poll contradicts earlier survey, says consumer confidence unchanged from last week and near average.
October 26, 2004: 6:30 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Consumer confidence is at a standstill one week before the presidential election, unchanged from last week and hovering near its all-time average, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index stands at -11 on its scale of +100 to -100, right where it's been the last two weeks, and a bare two points off its average of -9 since 1985.

Components within the index have shifted slightly, however. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed now say the economy's in good shape, up five points in the last three weeks; but the percentage of people who now say their own finances are solid, 53 percent, is the lowest since mid-June.

The results contrast with a Conference Board report released earlier Tuesday that said consumer confidence fell for the third straight month in October to its lowest level since March.

The ABC/Money poll also indicated rising gas prices were having little effect on consumer spending choices, with 41 percent saying now is a good time to buy things, unchanged from last week.

As has been the case throughout this politically charged year, confidence is heavily influenced by partisanship. The ABC/Money index among Republicans is a strong +33, but plummets to -20 among independents and further, to -43, among Democrats.

The index this week is just below the -7 where it stood at this point during Bill Clinton's successful re-election campaign in 1996, and far better than the -48 recorded during George H.W. Bush's unsuccessful drive for a second term.

Consumer Confidence

As usual, confidence is stronger among better-off Americans. The index is +49 among high-income people but -42 among those with the lowest incomes. It registered -4 among college graduates compared to -42 among high-school dropouts. The index was -5 among whites but -43 among blacks, and 0 among men but -22 among women.

Taken as a whole, 39 percent of Americans rate the U.S. economy as excellent or good; it was 37 percent last week. The highest was 80 percent on Jan. 16, 2000. The lowest was seven percent in late 1991 and early 1992.

Fifty-three percent say their own finances are excellent or good compared to 56 percent last week. The best was 70 percent on Aug. 30, 1998, matched in January 2000. The worst was 42 percent on March 14, 1993.

The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index represents a rolling average based on telephone interviews with a random sample of about 1,000 adults nationwide each month. This week's results are based on 1,000 interviews in the four weeks ended Oct. 24, 2004, and have an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points.  Top of page

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