By MARK PENN
September 21, 2010

While the stock market continues its recovery, suggesting that investors have become more optimistic, the voting public remains in the firm grip of pessimism and their negative outlook shows no signs of receding as we head into the midterms. In the latest POLITICO poll, 54 percent of the voters believe we are headed for a second recession, believing this by a two to one margin with only 25 percent who believe we will avoid a double dip.

This pessimism is highly correlated with political party identification. Republican voters show fear a second recession by a five to one margin, far greater than any other group. This of course leads to the unanswerable chicken-and-egg question: Are voters pessimistic because they are Republicans or are they Republicans because they are pessimistic?

View the full results from Penn Schoen Berland’s poll, the third of six in Politico’s “Power and the People” poll series

On the flip side, Democrats are relatively optimistic — while 39 percent believe that a double dip will happen, another 37 percent believe we will avoid it. Independent voters, critical to the outcome of the 2010 midterm elections, hold the middle ground. Their level of pessimism is roughly the same as the overall population, with 54 percent concerned about another recession.

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