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Posted Thursday, November 22, 2007
Americans express unhappiness as holiday season commences: Poll
By Reuters

Americans Enter Holidays In Dark Mood: Poll -WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans enter the holiday season in a dark mood, with economic worries, security fears and a lack of confidence in government fueling growing pessimism, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

The Reuters/Zogby Index, which measures the mood of the country, fell for the third consecutive month, dropping from 96 in October to 94.9 on new growth in the number of Americans dissatisfied with the economy and pessimistic about the future.

President George W. Bush rebounded slightly from last month's record low, with the number of Americans who give him positive marks climbing to 28 percent from 24 percent. But Congress remained stuck with a dismal positive rating of 11 percent, tying its record low.

"For the third straight month, Americans have a sense that things are not getting better, they are getting worse," pollster John Zogby said.

Rising gasoline prices, a mortgage loan crisis and talk of a recession spooked the markets and hurt American confidence in the economy, he said, while concerns linger about a potential conflict with Iran, unrest in Pakistan and the Iraq war.

"All that bad news has a cumulative effect. It feeds and festers," Zogby said. "The mood is driven by the economy, but Americans clearly don't have much faith in their governmental institutions either."

The poll found 40 percent of Americans expect a recession in the next year, up from 31 percent last month, and 39 percent plan to spend less during the holiday season, up from 31 percent a month ago.

Ratings for U.S. economic policy fell, with the number calling it poor jumping from 28 percent to 32 percent. A big majority of Americans are still confident their children will have a better life, but the number fell slightly from 63 percent to 61 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans who felt "very" safe from foreign threats fell to 25 percent from 29 percent, and the number who felt "not very" or "not at all" safe from those threats rose to 20 percent from 16 percent.

The number of Americans who believe the country is on the right track fell from 26 percent to 24 percent in the last month, with about two-thirds believing it is headed in the wrong direction.

"Americans are getting squeamish. They are not hearing encouraging news or feeling like there is a light at the end of the tunnel," Zogby said.

A majority of Americans, 55 percent, still rate their personal finances as good, up slightly from 54 percent last month, and two-thirds of Americans say they are very proud of their country.

The Index combines responses to 10 questions on Americans' views about their leaders, the direction of the country and their future. Index polling began in July, and that month's results provide the benchmark score of 100.

A score above 100 indicates the public mood has improved since July. A score below 100 shows the mood has soured, and a falling score like the one recorded this month shows the nation's mood is getting worse.

The RZI is released the third Wednesday of each month.

The telephone poll of 1,009 likely voters, taken last Wednesday to Friday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. (Editing by David Alexander and Doina Chiacu)

Copyright 2007 Reuters Ltd.

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