Americans look to Trump more than they do Biden on the future of the economy

Hoang NguyenData Journalist
August 26, 2020, 7:01 PM UTC

In the latest head-to-head matchup between President Donald Trump and his challenger, Joe Biden, Trump trails by nine points among registered voters. But the news isn’t all bleak for the president, especially when it comes to assessments of the future of the economy.

When asked if the economy will fare better if Biden is elected or Trump is re-elected, the public gives a slight edge to Trump. By 39 percent to 34 percent, Americans say Trump will better the economy if re-elected rather than if Biden is elected, according to the latest Economist/YouGov poll.

Differences in assessments are even sharper when examining the data by voter registration. More than two in five (43%) registered voters say the economy will get better if Trump is re-elected, compared with just 37 percent who say it will get better if Biden is elected.

There are also regional differences in this perception. Americans who live in the Northeast seem to favor Biden (44%) over Trump (33%) to better the economy. And while perceptions are close among those who live in the West on who would do a better job on the economy, more say the economy would get worse under Trump than it would under Biden. 

Trump’s edge lies among people who reside in the South and Midwest. In the South, by 42 percent to 30 percent, people say the economy will get better if Trump is reelected rather than if Biden is elected – a 12-point difference. That advantage grows to a 14-point difference among Midwesterners, where 41 percent say the economy will get better if he is reelected compared with the 27 percent who say the same if Biden is elected. 
Six months into the pandemic, assessments of the trend of the economy are mainly negative. Two in five Americans say the economy is getting worse (41%) and just one in five say it’s getting better (21%).

Prior to the onset of the health crisis in late February, however, Americans were more likely to approve (49%) than disapprove (39%) of President Trump’s handling of the economy. As the presidential election nears, jobs and the economy (25%) rank as the second most important issue to Americans just behind their top issue — health care (28%).

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between August 23 - 25, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.6% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty