A new Quinnipiac University survey provides some gloomy statistical evidence to back up the anecdotes and the chatter around the water cooler. As the recession bites deeper, people are going to spend less on holiday gifts, vacations and leisure activities such as movies and meals out.
The national poll of 2,210 registered voters released today finds dissatifaction at an all-time high, with 82 percent saying they are somewhat or very dissatisfied and just 16 percent satisfied with the way things are going in the nation today, and 95 percent of people saying the economy is "not so good" or poor. Half say they are worse off financially than a year ago compared with just 27 percent who are better off and 22 percent who report no change.
People are worried about their own prospects. Nearly a third say they fear losing their job, and another third fear they won't be able to afford their retirement.
And most people say they are cutting back on spending or will do so. A total of 39 percent even say they will cut back on heating or cooling their homes to economize, against 58 percent who will not. And 48 percent say they'll cut back on charitable giving while an equal number say they will not.
On more discretionary personal spending, the cutbacks will be greater. On leisure activities, 62 percent say they'll cut back on going to movies, shows or sports events to 33 percent who say they won't. By similar margins, people say they'll cut back on meals out and vacations.
The poll was conducted Nov. 6-10, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.
Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a note accompanying the poll data: "Christmas gifts, vacations, education, dining out -- Americans plan to cut back on all of them in these economically worrisome times. It's nice to see charitable giving is near the bottom of the cutback list."
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.