Economic anxiety dampens confidence in American Dream in Massachusetts

Only 20% of Massachusetts residents believe the next generation will be better off financially than the current one, according to a poll released today by The MassINC Polling Group.  The poll also showed that, among those pessimistic about the next generation’s prospects, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker leads 47-29, while Governor Patrick leads 53-20 among these who see brighter days for the next generation.

“Voters are supporting the candidate whose views of the economy are in line with their own beliefs.  It’s about which candidate either feels their pain or shares their optimism on economic issues.  Right now, there is more pain than optimism across the state, which means people are looking for leaders who clearly understand their plight,” said Steven Koczela, President of the newly-launched MassINC Polling Group.

The poll, conducted by The MassINC Polling Group, a subsidiary of the think tank, MassINC, measured a variety of voter opinion, with economic anxiety dominating the results.  Six in ten (61%) residents rate the economy as somewhat or very bad and less than half (41%) see any improvement coming in the next year.  Residents also say the economy is by far the most important issue facing the state.  Forty-six percent of all respondents cited the economy as the most important issue facing the state, while taxes came in a distant second at 15 percent.  On a personal level, one-in-three respondents rated their own family finances as somewhat or very bad. 

A 2004 MassINC report, called “The Pursuit of Happiness” showed 68 percent of Bay State parents believed their children would be generally better off.  In the next year, MassINC, together with Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies and the MassINC Polling Group will be exploring the state of the American Dream in Massachusetts, both from the perspective of public opinion and as a factor in the economic recovery. Today’s numbers suggest an optimism deficit on the issue of finances, something that will be explored, among other issues, in the planned research.

“This lack of confidence in upward mobility is concerning but not surprising,” said Greg Torres, President of MassINC and Publisher of CommonWealth magazine. “The economic climate for people who are holding their own – but are not fully participating in the state’s knowledge economy – has consistently declined over the last decade.  Combating this trend ought to be a priority issue for any of the state-wide candidates, regardless of party or ideology.”  

About the Poll
These results are based on a statewide poll of 400 Massachusetts adults, conducted September 22-25, 2010.  Live telephone interviews were conducted via both landline and cell phone.  The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.9 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence.

About the MassINC Polling Group

The MassINC Polling Group (MPG) is an independent, non-partisan organization providing public opinion research and analysis to public and private sector clients. MPG is a full service opinion polling operation offering strategic consultation, a wide-ranging suite of analytical products, and high-level communication and outreach planning.  For more information, visit

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