Oct 2008 Oct 2008 Dec 2008 Mar 2009 July 2009 Dec 2009
Very 21% 12% 10% 12% 12% 17%
Somewhat 38% 29% 28% 33% 29% 26%
Not very 29% 35% 41% 36% 36% 39%
Not likely 13% 24% 20% 18% 22% 19%
There was a substantial change between the first two surveys, which were only two weeks apart (Oct 3-5 and 17-19), but very little change since then. I'm not even sure if the differences among the last five surveys are statistically significant. (If you want to calculate it yourself, the sample sizes are about 1,000 for each survey). After a year when the worst didn't happen, it would be reasonable to think that it wasn't going to happen in the next year. But that wasn't how people reacted.
The improvement over a two-week period in October 2008 is also interesting. The TARP bill was signed into law on Oct 3. Maybe the process leading up to that contributed to a sense of panic, and people just bounced back after a few weeks. Or maybe something positive happened between early and mid-October that affected people's outlook, although I don't remember the history well enough to think of what that might be.