President Donald Trump hopes to ride a good economy (as well as uncertainties about the Democratic nominee) to re-election. This latest Economist/YouGov poll points out some of his advantages – and potential weaknesses.
First, the good news about the economy. The jobless rate, now 3.6 percent, has remained below 4 percent for a year and a half. But many Americans don’t recognize this, and those that do may already be more likely to support the president. Overall, only a third (34%) correctly choose “below 4%” when asked about the unemployment rate, and that group includes just 46 percent of Republicans.
Though about one in three Americans say the economy is improving, one in five think it is getting worse – even with that low unemployment rate and a rising stock market. Most can’t say whether the rate went up or down last month (it rose 0.1%).
More than half the public believe other measures are better than the jobless rate when it comes to assessing the economy. Prices are cited as often as jobs; in addition, a fifth believe what matters most is how their personal finances are doing. Looking ahead past the election, there isn’t much difference in what Americans expect will happen to the economy if a Democrat wins the Presidency this November or if Donald Trump is re-elected. Just about the same percentages overall think the economy will get worse in either case.
The answers to these questions are heavily influenced by a person’s partisanship. Overall, more Americans (44%) say they are better off today than they were four years ago (34%), certainly a positive sign for the President.
As has been the case for all Presidents, Donald Trump’s State of the Union viewing audience was a friendly one. 40 percent of those who said they watched all or part of the speech called themselves Republicans, and only 20 percent were Democrats.
President Trump has unified the GOP, though there are segments of the party that still disagree with him. In this poll, 18 percent of Republicans approve of the House of Representatives impeachment votes (but only half that percentage of Republicans think the President should have been removed from office or disapprove of how the President is handling his job overall).
Utah Senator Mitt Romney’s vote to convict the President on one impeachment count does not sit well with Republicans. In this poll, only 21 percent of Republicans have a favorable rating of Romney; 70 percent are unfavorable (Democrats, on the other hand, view him favorably, 62% to 25%.) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ripping up of the text of the President’s speech after the State of the Union gets criticism: Americans disapprove 48 percent to 38 percent. Those who disapprove include 21 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Independents.
More than one in five Republicans see flaws in the President:
- 21% of Republicans believe he has used his office to enrich his family and friends
- 22% think he ignores his advisers’ guidance
- 27% say he has not set a high moral standard while in office
- 23% say his use of Twitter is inappropriate
- 49% say he often reacts and speaks without thinking
The public overall has a negative view of the President on all those items.
When it comes to the fall election, the Economist/YouGov Poll has consistently found more registered voters saying they will vote for the Democratic candidate than say they will vote for the President. Partisanship matters and 89 percent of Republican registered voters say they will vote to re-elect the President, while 89 percent of Democrats will vote against him.
Most of those voters will be very difficult to pry away. Just 3 percent of those now saying they will vote for the Democratic nominee say they could change their minds, and 1 percent are unsure. Just over one in 20 (6%) of those supporting the President say they could shift, with another 9 percent saying they aren’t sure. Those who say they may shift or aren’t sure cite who becomes the Democratic nominee as a reason for moving one way or the other.
But the presidential election isn’t simply a popularity contest. The President was elected not because he received more votes nationally, but because he carried the states that gave him an Electoral College majority. Americans remember this, and Democratic voters are less confident of a victory this year than Trump voters are. More than one in ten of those supporting the (unnamed) Democrat think the President will win. Almost no Trump supporters expect he will lose.
Democratic voters, who say electability matters more to them than issues, have yet to be convinced the leading Democratic candidates can win. Just over half of Democratic primary voters say former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg can win; those same Democratic voters are as likely to think former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren would lose to the President as to say they would win.
Read the full toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov poll