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Analysis by CBS News Shows Decrease in Americans Anticipating Recession

For nearly all of the Biden presidency, Americans have generally felt that things in the country are going badly — seven in 10 say so today — and related to this, they say that the economy is not in good shape. Sentiment on these two questions is very intertwined, as shown in the chart below.

Except for a brief honeymoon in early 2021, driven by Democrats and independents, no more than a third of the public has felt that things are going well. The same is true of the share saying the economy is good.

While there’s no doubt these views have become increasingly colored by partisanship in recent decades, only about half of Democrats and a quarter of independents have rated the economy positively for the last couple of years. And there’s been no sign of improvement — at least not in public perceptions — since Biden’s first six months in office.

However, there’s a different story when examining people’s forward-looking expectations. Though these prospective evaluations are negative on balance, they have been improving gradually over the past year or so.

Specifically, expectations that the U.S. economy will soon be in recession have been gradually decreasing over the past year or so. Around a third of registered voters say that today, but as the chart below shows, it was hovering around nearly half for most of last year. And a combined six in 10 voters expect the economy to either be in recession or slowing. Even that combined number is slightly down, from seven in 10 in early 2022.

These trends have been accompanied by a slightly higher share expecting the economy to at least hold steady over the next year, if not grow ( three in 10 in early 2022 to four in 10 now).

This drop in pessimism has been driven by gradual shifts across party lines, but the largest shift since summer 2022 has come from Republicans. Just half of Republican voters are currently planning for the U.S. to be in recession. That number has dropped about 20 points since June 2022, with independent voters also seeing a double-digit decrease.

As we enter the next presidential election year, both current and forward-looking ratings of the economy will be important measures of the public’s mood. At least one of these appears to be on the right track for the incumbent party.

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