Despite continuing financial woes, many Nevadans are not willing to say that the country would be better off if John McCain had been elected president.
In a poll taken for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and 8NewsNow, voters reacted to the state's financial crisis: One in three households has been touched by record unemployment and less than half believe their financial situation will remain the same over the next year.
But 46 percent of voters polled said the country would not be in a better economic state under the Arizona Republican senator's leadership as opposed to 38 percent who say it would.
"This, again, hearkens to people's fear and concern, mainly economically, about the future," said Mark Peplowski, a political science professor at the College of Southern Nevada. "Anyone sitting in office is going to feel the fear and discontent among the voters."
An overwhelming 74 percent of Democrats said a McCain presidency would not have improved the country, while among Republicans, 65 percent said the country would be better off.
More men, 49 percent, than women, 28 percent, said McCain would have done a better job as president, according to the poll.
Peplowski said he wasn't surprised by the results, particularly the split along party lines.
"If Yogi Bear was on the other side, (voters) would have said they were happy," he said. "It doesn't matter. I think whoever you put on the other side of that ticket, you'd get better numbers because the grass is always greener."
Despite Congress having more power to push programs and policies through, President Barack Obama gets blamed when things go wrong because he is the face of the nation, Peplowski added.
"Can you imagine this scenario if McCain had been president with a Democratic Congress?" he said. "I think he would have been stifled. He couldn't do anything. He would be facing the same dilemma, only a worse situation, without a Congress he could work with. People don't see that, they think the president makes it all happen."
A total of 625 registered voters statewide participated in the three-day telephone poll from Aug. 9-11. All said they vote regularly in state elections.
The majority of the group, 47 percent, also said they felt their personal financial situations will remain the same over the next year.
Among voters ages 50-64, 52 percent, were more confident in their finances staying the same. Those older than 65 appear to be more optimistic in their finances improving at 13 percent.
However, 38 percent of voters polled statewide -- including 43 percent under the age of 50 -- said their finances actually will worsen.
Denise Wilcox, a financial planner for Financial Solutions, Inc., said the state is experiencing more sluggish signs of economic rebound than expected.
"After the stimulus package we thought we'd have a powerful rebound, but in truth, it's not been so powerful," Wilcox said. "We believe there is a recovery, it's just weaker than what we wanted. It's about expectations versus reality."
Companies are eliminating costs, which could mean job cuts, Wilcox added.
Despite the president's $787 billion economic stimulus package, which aims for job creation, Nevada continues to lead the nation in unemployment at 14.2 percent.
"With a loss of employment opportunities and a loss of housing value, some people are experiencing leaving jobs earlier due to buyouts or downsizing," Wilcox said. "The results don't surprise me that there's competition for fewer jobs."
According to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, Las Vegas added 24,600 jobs in 2006. In 2007, that number was 8,400. By 2008-09, when the recession hit, the state lost 100,000 jobs.
But according to poll results, 34 percent of Nevada voters said someone in their households lost a job in the past 18 months. If the voters were younger than 65, 41 percent said someone lost a job in their household.
Although two in three voters said their household had not been touched by the record unemployment, Wilcox said people should be careful not to interpret that number as job creation.
"Companies, states, cities and municipalities have become painfully aware of their bottom line," she said. "It's not necessarily a rebound. They're coming down to a point where they're managing the budget with income and the costs they have. Jobs growth is going to take awhile."
Brian Gordon, a principal at the Nevada-based advisory firm Applied Analysis, said there are still 140,000 Nevadans looking for work.
"The rate of job loss in the past several months has started to slow," Gordon said. "There seems to be a sense that people are feeling slightly better overall about their job security if they have their job today. It's much more difficult to find work."
The health and education sectors have seen modest growth, while business professional services and tourism remain soft, he added. The construction industry was the hardest hit.
"The number of people unemployed is still higher than what it was, but the pace at which people are losing their jobs is lessening," Gordon said. "We're not creating a whole lot of jobs."
Contact Kristi Jourdan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0279.