Flat Overall, CCI Goes Positive for +100K

While the election season shifts into overdrive, consumer confidence is stalled overall – albeit revving up in one group, higher-income Americans.

The big picture remains grim: Three-quarters of the way through 2010, the ABC News Consumer Comfort Index is no better now than it was a year ago. The CCI stands at -45 on its scale of -100 to +100 this week, matching its average this quarter; it’s been below -40 for the past 10 quarters straight, the longest such run in 24 years of weekly polling.

Nonetheless, at +21 the CCI is notably high this week among those with household incomes of more than $100,000 a year. That’s the best it’s been in this group since November 2007, extending a four week positive trend from -4 at the end of August.

One possible reason for the positivity: The stock markets’ rally, up nearly 7 percent since Aug. 23; better-off adults are more apt to invest in equities.

Confidence overall, though, has not gained; while the index’s gone positive among highest-income adults, it’s been negative in under-$100,000 households for a record 144 weeks.

That carries political portent: The CCI lagged below -30 for 13 consecutive quarters in the lead-up to the 1994 election, when the Republicans seized control of the House. And even then the index showed major improvement in the three quarters immediately before the election; no such gains are in hand this time around.

The CCI, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, is based on public views of the national economy, personal finances and the buying climate. Just 11 percent rate the economy positively, and it’s been fewer than 15 percent for more than two years. Just 27 percent call it a good time to buy things, below 30 percent since February 2008. And 45 percent say their personal finances are in good shape; it’s ranged between 43 and 51 percent all year.

Analysis by Julie E. Phelan, research analyst, Langer Research Associates.

Click here for tables with this week’s CCI data.

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