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Higher Gas Prices Hit Middle Class

Bush's approval rating on the economy has been slipping lately and the latest Gallup poll has more evidence on one key reason for that: higher gas prices are hitting the middle class and they don't like it.

According to the new poll:

Almost 6 in 10 say the higher prices are causing a hardship, including 15% who say the hardship is "serious." More than a third of Americans have cut back on spending because of the higher prices, and about half have cut back significantly on the amount of driving they do. Lower-income Americans feel especially hard hit.

The poll, conducted April 1-2, finds that 58% of Americans have experienced hardship, the first time in the past six years that a majority has expressed this view.

Overall, 48 percent of the public has cut back on driving, due to higher gas prices, and 38 percent have cut back on household spending. By income group, these figures are 71 percent cut back on driving/68 percent cut back on household spending among those with less than $20,000 in household income, 54 percent/52 percent among those with $20,000-$30,000 income, 55/40 among those with $30,000-$50,000 and 42/29 among those with $50,000-$75,000. So the pinch from higher gas prices is now being felt at income levels well into the middle class. That's a change and not a welcome one for those in the Bush administration.