News & Politics

New Poll: Americans Believe They're Better Off Financially Under Trump than Obama

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It’s no secret we live in a divided nation. Tribalism reigns supreme, particularly when it comes to President Donald Trump. But a new survey sheds some interesting light on Americans’ perceptions of the president.

Emerson College has released a new poll which shows that Trump’s approval rating has jumped four points over six months ago — 43 percent in July versus 39 percent in January — while his disapproval rating has dipped two points to 50 percent.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of this poll is the response to the question of whether those surveyed believed they’re better off financially under Trump as opposed to under Barack Obama. A solid 42 percent believe that they’re better off under the current administration.

Here’s how responses to that question broke down:

When asked if they (voters) were better or worse off financially than they were two years ago 42% responded better off, while 26% said worse off. Males appear to be doing better in a Trump economy than females: 49% of males reported doing better, while 21% said they were doing worse. Alternatively 36% of females reported they were better off, while 30% said they were doing worse. Perceptions of the financial situation varied by party and race, Democrats had the lowest improvement at 33%, with 32% doing worse. Among Hispanics, a distinct majority – 62% believed they were better off, while 25% thought they were worse off. Blacks had a reversed perspective with 30% reporting they were doing better and 40% doing worse.

In spite of the rosier financial outlook, Democrats took a stronger lead in the generic congressional ballot portion of this poll. Democrats extended a lead over the GOP to the tune of 49 percent to 42 percent. That’s a four-point jump for Democrats over six months ago. Interestingly, the percentage of voters who remained unsure of their preference dipped from 15 to nine since January. Half of the voters surveyed indicated that they were excited about November’s elections.

One of the most fascinating features of the poll involves a question about voters’ preferred economic system. Overall, those surveyed prefer capitalism to socialism by a margin of more than two to one. A majority — 54 — favor capitalism, while 24 percent lean toward socialism.

Breaking the question down, those who voted for Hillary Clinton prefer socialism over capitalism, to the tune of 37 percent to 34 percent. Over three-fourths of Trump voters — 76 percent — favor capitalism, while nine percent favor socialism. Among millennials, the margin is as slim as can be with a single percentage point separating lovers of capitalism from adherents of socialism, 32-31, which also means that even more voters between the ages of 18 and 34 aren’t even sure which system they like better.

Pollsters asked a variety of other questions on subjects as diverse as abortion, foreign policy, marijuana, and aliens. For the record, more Trump voters believe that aliens have visited Earth than do Clinton voters, while 59 percent of voters support the legalization of weed. And 59 percent of Americans see Russia as a foe rather than as a friend, while a staggering 30 percent of Hispanic voters favor a total ban on abortion.

We can draw some heartening conclusions from this poll. It’s nice to see the president’s approval numbers trending upward (yes, you read that right from me), and it’s even more promising that so many people see that their lives are better under Trump than Obama. With countless news cycles left between now and November, maybe increased satisfaction with the administration will bleed over into the GOP’s chances in the House and Senate.

Even more encouraging is the idea that a fairly hefty majority of American voters still prefer capitalism to socialism (except for the nine percent of Trump voters — who are these people?). We shouldn’t be too surprised to draw the conclusion that Hillary’s supporters are largely socialist, and we should probably express concern over the economic cluelessness of millennials. All in all, the Emerson survey provides us with a fascinating glimpse into the state of America’s electorate this summer.