‘We’re on the wrong course’

Julie Murray says life is good. Yet gasoline prices are crimping her grocery budget, she can’t afford a larger house, and she says President Bush is not focused enough on people’s problems at home.

“My husband and I are happy,” said Murray, 46, a homemaker from Montpelier, Miss. “We just wish we could buy more into the American dream.”

Like Murray, most in the U.S. say they are personally happy and feel in control of their lives and finances, according to an extensive Associated Press-Yahoo! News survey on the mood of voters. Beneath the surface, though, personal and political discontent is bubbling.

There is a widespread unease—shared by 77 percent—that the country has meandered off in the wrong direction. Nearly all Democrats and more than six in 10 Republicans think the country has taken the wrong course. And although almost half express interest and hope in the upcoming elections, a third voice frustration—particularly Republicans.

The AP-Yahoo! News survey will track voters’ perspectives during the run-up to next year’s election, interviewing more than 2,000 people repeatedly about their lives and views about the country, candidates and issues. The polling, conducted by Knowledge Networks, will let the AP and Yahoo! track how and why opinions form and change during the campaign.

People are paying attention to the 2008 presidential campaign. Solid majorities think their vote matters and say this wide-open presidential contest is more important than usual.

Stirred in are warning signs for Republican candidates: Democrats seething after nearly seven years under President Bush are happier and more psyched up about this election than Republicans.

More Democrats than Republicans say they are hopeful about the voting, 54 percent to 39 percent, and more of them are interested in it. Republicans are more likely to say the election leaves them frustrated and bored.

“There’s no one out there to vote for,” Rocky Belcher, 43, a Republican and college professor from Vandalia, Ohio, said about the GOP field. “That means a lot of Republicans may not get out there to vote.”

Happy and unhappy people alike say they are likelier to vote for the Democratic nominee, with the unhappy—who are likelier to be lower-income and less educated—giving Democrats a bigger, 2-to-1 margin. When it comes to the candidates battling for those nominations, the two front-runners—Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and former GOP New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani—are faring about equally among the happy and unhappy.

More Democrats than Republicans say the 2008 contest is unusually important, and they are likelier to describe themselves as excited, interested and hopeful. By wider margins than Democrats, Republicans say the election makes them feel frustrated and bored.

Democrats and Republicans differ when defining the key issues. Democrats list the economy and health care followed by Iraq, while Republicans name three equally—terrorism, the economy and Iraq.

Joseph Lyon, a 22-year-old Republican from Houston, is most troubled by a fear the U.S. will leave Iraq too soon and by immigrants who stream into the U.S. but do not learn English.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Lyon, who begins serving with the Marines early next year. “They come here to live and expect us to assimilate to them. It’s our country.”

In Oshkosh, Wis., Jenny Walsh is most concerned about the failure to end the war and what she sees as a growing gap between rich and poor.

“We need change, just something that’s completely different,” said Walsh, 28, a Democrat and convenience store manager. “It’s just slowly going downhill.”

With the limp housing and credit markets dominating recent headlines, financial problems are at the heart of many people’s worries. Though three-quarters say they control their financial situation, most say they are having trouble getting ahead, including a third who say that has become very difficult.

“Something’s gotten out of synch between what we make and what things cost,” said Sandra Dempsey, 47, a child-care provider in Jonesboro, Ga. “Slowly but surely the middle class is becoming the lower class.”

In a measure of the two parties’ traditional strengths with income classes, people saying they are enjoying good financial times said they are slightly likelier to support next year’s Republican presidential candidate over the Democrat. Those saying times are tough are less likely to vote, but back the Democrat by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, though they don’t necessarily blame Republicans for their problems.

“We have illegal immigrants coming in, they work for cheaper and that keeps black folks out of jobs,” said Charlie Burnette, 56, a mechanic from Durham, N.C.

When it comes to the stressed out, they are as likely to vote Democratic or Republican as are those without such tension in their lives. The same is true for people who generally trust others and those who do not.

While two-thirds said they approve of gambling, overwhelming majorities disapproved of heavy drinking, smoking marijuana, and using cable TV or a neighbor’s Internet connection or sharing music or video files without paying. There are scant party differences in most, though Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to approve of marijuana smoking, and young people are far likelier than their elders to assent to each one.

The online survey of 2,230 adults was conducted Nov. 2-12 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points. The survey included 1,049 Democrats, for whom the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points, and 827 Republicans, for whom the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

This Internet survey uses Knowledge Networks’ online panel, which is nationally representative because people are first contacted using traditional telephone polling methods, and then followed with online interviews. People selected for the study who do not already have Internet access are provided with it for free.

Associated Press news survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.


  1. dbumRob

    Jeez, I’m in a DINK family and where I live that still doesn’t allow me in the front door, let alone buy more.

    November of 2005, USA Today had an article claiming the median home price in America was $212G. On the standard model, that requires a combined income of $70G which is two jobs at $35/hour. Sounds like union wages to me.Add to that a car or two, the insurances, I’ll assume job supplied health care at 100%, groceries, gas, home care, clothes, and the other sundries, and suddenly the American dream actually requires two of those jobs which this country loses every day.Add to that kids and related costs of clothes, school stuff, and then savings for college and retirement, and the American dream has sudddenly become quite elite.

    And if the real estate/credit market bubble bursts, then 77 of the people won’t be happy at all, and real fast at that.

    Millions every year lose health insurance. Wages are suppressed for those jobs we do keep. Real estate prices have been sky rocketing. Gas prices will never go back to where they were in 1999. Savings rates are at Depression era lows. Debt is out of control.

    Meandered off course? We are past meandering. It’s time for anothe Tea party.

  2. anthny

    Meandered off course caught my eye.
    The meandering started long ago and it began when Eisenhower warned us of the Military Industrail Complex. The only problem with the warning was nobody knew what Ike was talking about. We all shrugged and thought the warning was enough for people in charge to do the right things. The so-called people in-charge did not know what to do, they saw what was happening but were paid off and looked the other way.
    Or did they, some were retired, some were voted out of office, some were marked, there are tons of reasons of why this was allowed to happen and the biggest was MONEY, we were paid off.
    We could not help it, we are very weak humans who always need more money.
    Thanksgiving Day it will be the 44th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, and in my mind the start of the Wrong Course.
    The wrong course was the right course for that exoteric government that Kennedy warned us about, The Secret government that rules without rules……………………..
    The tea party is over, now is the time for all good middle class people to look at there demise.
    With no middle class we cannot have a true democracy.
    Thanks for letting me write my rant, not that it will do anyone any good, it will make me feel like I did something positive. But in the long run people will not even read the dammed thing because it’s too long and full of errors.
    So as weak humans we will go on and look back, and hopefuly history will report the full impact of our regression of freedoms.
    Not that we were really free, we thought we were free, we thought we won WWll.
    Propaganda is a wonderful tool of repression.
    I think the old boy Joseph Goebbels is dancing with joy over the fall of our Democratic Captialism.

  3. Sandra Price

    What do you want from the government? Do you want the government to set your wages? Set the academics for your kid’s schooling? Put a lid on the price of homes?

    Yes we won WWII but were taken into being the world’s police force into Korea and Vietnam. Can’t you see where this led? We had a chance at voting for a truly Independent candidate in 1964 but the other candidate promised hand outs for everyone and, of course, he won!

    For years we have allowed the Congress to set the agendas of the two parties and we are now faced with choice of Socialism or a Theocracy. Both of these extremes will remove even more of our freedoms.

    We all want change but first we have to define what changes we want. I’m reading what the government should be doing for us instead of getting the government off our backs by setting taxes and prohibitions that will indeed redistribute our wealth and our government run Corporations will survive.

    I’ve spoken to a lot of people on what this 2008 election will give us, and easily 80% don’t like the choices. I suggest to first throw the bastards out of power and be ready to elect a new Congress in 2008 and 2010 and then get ready for a new political movement for the White House. We cannot survive under either of our political parties and we must sell change before we we lose our power of the elections.

    Nearly every day we find more corruption in the GOP and the Democrats and I feel they have worn out their welcome and we need some new blood.

    We must get out of the middle east and insist that the States be given the authority over our personal lives as is found in the 10 Amendment.

    What do we want?

  4. Janet

    It’s time for Republicans to understand that the tax cuts they think they got were all smoke and mirrors, as is everything with Bush.

    Any tax cuts are cancelled out by gas prices that are more than double what they were when Bush took office, by the loss of home values, people losing their homes, by the higher prices of consumer goods and food due to the high gas prices, by out of control healthare costs, by the deficit of biblical proportions due to tax cuts and billions of dollars going down the toilet that is Iraq…a deficit that Bush created from a surplus and balanced budget left to him by Clinton.

    Bush has spent money in a way that would embarrass a drunken sailor, while cutting taxes for his friends. He is not your friend unless you are the Saudi Royal family, in the oil business or rich.

    A new course means voting for a Democrat.

  5. old_curmudgeon

    I’m sorry but what gives you the idea that the Dems are any different than the Repubs? When one pays attention he sees that for the past 8 months or so the Dems have been pulling much higher $$ numbers than the Repubs. Why? Well, those with money (a much smaller number than before, IMO) who gave to the Repubs in the past are now changing allegiances. Why? Well, money is the key to the kingdom, isn’t it? They got access with Bushco and his water-carriers and now they’ll get access with the Dems. Who’re they? The ones who really control the government, of course – the industrialist, the money managers, the military contractors, and those who say they have our best interest at heart. cough, cough. The Democrats are more than willing to take their money BECAUSE it will get them what they want. What do they want? Well, power and an incumbancy. The Dems don’t care about US. They only care about themselves (and those who fill their coffers). To believe anything different is a pipe dream – and that ain’t Flying Dutchman in the pipe. Ask yourselves why none of the candidates on either side have said anthing about the falling DOW, the falling dollar, or the rising oil prices. Not a word. In 2006 they at least complained a little about the higher fuel costs. Not this year. They don’t care. They’re focused on only their coffers. But, that’s just this old curmudgeon’s opinion.

  6. Sandra Price

    old curmudgeon, I fear you are correct. The stability of our dollar depends on the stability of our government. Not a day goes by when some new indication of lying and manipulating is exposed from the white house. Changing the white house is not the answer but changing the government authority would be a big step up.

    Every time the white house take more authority that they are authorized to take our whole nation becomes shaky. The missing link is the oversight committees who overlook everything that does not look good. They seem to be working on how they can use this mess for themselves.

    Our best chance is to throw them all out! Starting from scratch would be better than handing the Congress the same old itshay for the next 2 years.

    I have notified my own congressman that I would be working against him for the next 14 months. He knows why as I have written to him every other month since 2004. His backing Bush 100% shows me he has no concern over our ability to survive as decent Americans.

  7. Carl Nemo

    “We just wish we could buy more into the American dream.”…Julie Murray

    Julie along with several hundred million other Americans better wake up soon and realize they are headed for skid row. Julie wants to buy more “stuff” mostly made in China. The American dream is soon to become their worst nightmare.

    Within the past few days there was an article how Chinese per capita income as risen to the 8500 Yuan level. With one dollar equaling 7.4225 Yuan at todays peg, it means that a hard-working almost at a slave-labor level, a Chinese family is bringing home a whopping $1148 USD per annum…?!

    China is sitting on a whopping $1.2 trillion dollar “surplus” because of the voracious appetite for more “stuff” at the expense of our U.S. economy. This Chinese surplus equates to about 8.89 trillion yuan. The U.S. on the other hand is now approaching 9.7 trillion dollars in public “debt” with it to be 12 trillion by 2012…?!

    The Chinese along with many other offshore peoples are saving about 10 percent of their income per year. The U.S. savings rate is now approaching zero to mostly the mega-minus zone on their family ledger. Swipe the plastic please…! The average American is emulating the wasteful tax and spend policies of our profligate, criminal government;ie., debtors all.

    The Fed is now sacrificing what little remains of the US dollars value by lowering rates which is actually discouraging foreign investment in our ongoing public profligacy. So the dollar is now imploding against all currencies worldwide. It now only is worth .68 the value of the Euro. When Bush took office the Euro was worth a bit less than the USD at about .87. So our evil leaders in the Executive Branch, the Congress, and the privately owned Federal Reserve are in the process of finishing off the U.S. for the purpose pushing their globalist plans down our throats.

    The Chinese and the Indians et. al. will continue to make more per capita, but “we the people” are headed for the financial ashbin of history. LBJ started us down the long slippery slope of debasing our currency by eliminating any ties of the “silver certificate”;ie., a silver backed USD. Nixon then broke the ties between the dollar and gold allowing it to “float”. Our dollar became simply a “fiat” (faith money) currency which to a politican is a counterfeitters dream. The rest is history.

    People with holdings in money market funds, CD’s, savings accounts etc., might as well watch the sand passing through an hourglass; the sand, representing the value of their life’s work evaporating before their eyes.

    It’s my personal recommendation that people diversify their dollar holdings in other appreciating currencies like the Euro, the Yen, the Canadian dollar, the Australian dollar, the Swiss Franc, and the Norwegian Kroner. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket though and diversify your cash holdings into two or three of these. It can easily be done using ETF’s, Exchange traded funds. The Rydex family offers currency funds to achieve my suggested protection for your USD denominated cash holdings. These funds also pay interest, so your money isn’t laying fallow while diversified in these currencies. These are not mutual funds and can be bought and sold throughout a trading day just like a common stock. I’ll provide a link so folks can familiarize themselves with these currency etf’s.


    In summation, I advise people to forget about either the Republicans or the Democrats to save our bacon. The US government only excels in fraud against “we the people”.
    We have a totally corrupt, criminal government at this point in US history.

    Bush/Cheney are two madmen at the helm of the USS America. They are steaming through an iceberg field representing mind-boggling public debt. Congress is in the engine room facilitating this last voyage to the bottom. There are no lifeboats because they sold them to some arab in the last port of call for just a few bucks more

    Carl Nemo **==

  8. old_curmudgeon

    When the dollar and subsequently the markets crash, all that paper is going to be worthless regardless of who issued it. Gold and silver will once again be the only viable currency. As REM so eloquently put it, “It’s the end of the world as we know it…”