Partisan Gap Drives Split Views of American Economy

A customer pulls her shopping cart at a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, N.Y., on April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

(CN) – Most Americans view the state of their personal finances positively, but their opinions on the economy as a whole and President Donald Trump’s effect on it are deeply divided by political affiliations, the Pew Research Center reported Thursday.

In a survey of about 1,500 adults between July 10 and 15, researchers found that 55% of respondents rated national economic conditions as “excellent” or good.

This majority was primarily composed of Republican respondents, 79% of which had positive impressions of the economy. Only 33% of Democratic respondents viewed the economy positively.

Republicans’ impressions of the economy skyrocketed upon President Trump’s swearing in to the highest percentage in the last 20 years. Democrats’ positive views have fallen slightly, but to a much lesser degree than gains among Republicans.

When researchers applied these impressions to Trump’s economic record, partisan divisions were even more apparent. The same number of Republican respondents, 79%, felt that the president has made the economy better, whereas only 13% of Democratic respondents said the same.

Democrats were most likely to say that Trump has had “not much effect” on the economy at 42%, and 41% of Democratic respondents said he has made the economy worse. Removing party affiliations, 44% of all respondents said Trump has made the economy better.

Though economic status also played a role in determining the public’s attitude toward the economy, political party had a far larger impact.

For example, 26% of Democrats who made less than $30,000 annually regarded the economy positively, whereas 54% of Republican respondents in that same income bracket felt the same. Similarly, 39% of Democrats who made more than $75,000 annually viewed the economy positively, whereas 88% of Republicans in the same income bracket felt the same.

Though majorities of Republicans in all measured income brackets felt positively about the economy, the biggest gap in economic opinions across income brackets was between low and high-income Republicans, with a difference of 34% between the highest and lowest earners.

The current economy is regarded positively overall, but respondents seemed less optimistic about the expected state of the economy in a year.

Though an overwhelming majority of Republicans felt that the economy would continue to improve after Trump’s inauguration, that number fell to 48% in the latest survey. Only 15% of Democrats felt that the economy would be better in a year, though that percentage has risen slightly since 2018. Overall, just 31% of respondents felt that the economy would be better a year from now.

Despite the divided impressions of the economy as it stands and how it might change in the near future, most people surveyed said their own financial situation was good or excellent.

A 65% majority of Republican respondents and half of Democratic respondents indicated positivity about their own finances, with a 55% majority overall. Though most respondents indicated a personal financial slump during the Obama administration, they now reported financial statuses similar to levels before the 2008 economic recession.

Overall, 71% of respondents felt that their financial situation would improve at least somewhat over the course of the next year, with 84% of Republicans and 61% of Democrats responding as such.

Though partisanship was once again the biggest factor in respondents’ opinions about the economy, most Americans surveyed were optimistic about its current state and the direction of their own finances.

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