Americans agree the economy is doing well. They do not agree this should be credited to Trump.
Nearly 6-in-10 respondents in a new Post-ABC News poll describe the state of the U.S. economy as “excellent” or “good.” Four-in-10 describe it as “not so good” or “poor.” There is a partisan split on the question, as there is with most questions these days. About 6-in-10 Democrats use one of the two more negative terms to describe the economy while 80 percent of Republicans use one of the two more positive terms. Most independents view the economy favorably.
Again, Trump does not get the credit. About 4-in-10 respondents say Trump’s administration deserves a “great deal” or a “good amount” of credit for the economy, with Republicans again more positive than Democrats.
By contrast, half of respondents say the administration of former president Barack Obama deserves a “great deal” or “good amount” of credit. Nearly a quarter of Americans say Obama’s team deserves a great deal of credit, while 19 percent of respondents say Trump’s team does.
There is a likely reason for this. For the most part, economic trends that began under Obama have continued, including those trends Trump points to the most often.
After the economic collapse at the end of George W. Bush’s second term, stock indexes began a fairly steady climb in early 2009. They leveled out a bit in late 2015 and into 2017, but then continued upward. (A number of international indexes have also performed well since 2009.)
The unemployment rate has been sinking steadily since 2010.
That includes the rates for a number of demographic groups Trump has called out: black Americans, Hispanics and women. (On Saturday night, Trump claimed the overall unemployment rate and the rate for women were at the “lowest” they had been. That is not true; at the end of Bill Clinton’s second term, the rates were lower.)
Politics plays a big role in perceptions of who deserves credit. Among those who say Trump deserves a great deal or good amount of credit for the economy, 31 percent say Obama does, too. Among those who say Obama deserves that much credit, only 24 percent are willing to say Trump does as well.
If Trump is frustrated by not getting more credit for the economy, here is a silver lining: Those who view the economy mostly negatively are much more likely to blame Obama. Among those who view the economy positively, half say Trump deserves a great deal or good amount of credit. Among those who view it negatively, 56 percent say Obama largely owns the economy.
Three-quarters of those who view the economy negatively say Trump has little ownership over it.
When Obama first took office, his rhetoric was the opposite of Trump’s: The stumbling economy was the fault of my predecessor. By December of his first year, Americans were about split on who owned the economy, Bush or Obama. In that regard, Trump’s trailing a bit — but over the course of 2009, the economy had seen more change than it did over the course of 2017.
The big risk for Trump is a significant shift in the economy will likely be seen as being due to his efforts. The economy is doing so well on the above metrics that such a shift would almost certainly be negative: A drop in the stock indexes or a shift in the unemployment rate back upward. If those things happen over the next few years, Trump will almost certainly get the credit.
After all, he has been asking for credit for those things for over a year.