With unemployment falling to 7.8 percent as of September, the housing market finally showing signs of improvement and the U.S. stock market up more than 12 percent on the year, consumers have been feeling more optimistic about the economy. Now a poll by the Gallup Organization finds that, for the first time in more than five years, the percentage of Americans who say they feel financially stronger than they did a year ago, 38 percent, is higher than those who say they are worse off, 34 percent.
The poll numbers still hint at a squeaker of an election. The 38 percent who say they are doing better than last year is just below the levels recorded by Gallup ahead of the 1984 and 2004 elections, when presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush won reelection. In September 1984, 39 percent said they felt better and the figure was 41 percent in November 2003. But the latest results are considerably weaker than the 49 percent who said they felt better off in 1996, when Bill Clinton sailed to a second term.
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