Optimism about the economy has taken a nosedive among Republicans. But the economy did not drive change. The presidential elections did it.
After the loss of President Trump to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., more than 40 percent of Republicans polled for the New York Times said their family would be financially worse in a year, up from 4 percent in October . Democrats expressed an increase in optimism – albeit not as much as the change in Republican sentiment.
The new poll from the Online research company SurveyMonkeyreaffirms the extent to which American confidence in the path of business is intertwined with partisanship and ideology. In the days following the election, Democrats and independent voters showed higher confidence in the economy than Republicans for the first time since taking office in 2017.
Democrats said almost three times as often in November as in October that they expected good or very good business conditions in the country next year. It was more than twice as likely as in October that they expected “consistently good economic times for the next five years”.
In fact, Republicans were more likely to say they were fine in November than in October. But almost three in four respondents said they expected “periods of widespread unemployment or depression” in the next few years, up from three in ten in October.
Nancy Veits, a Republican voter in Los Angeles County, said the economy was a major factor in her decision to vote for Mr Trump. A retired small business owner, Ms. Veits, 81, said she appreciated the president’s commitment to deregulation – and that she feared for the economy after he left.
“The economy worked,” she said. “I think it will be more difficult under Biden.”
David Keyston, a respondent in Waco, Texas, has similar concerns. He runs his own nonprofit business and distributes books on alternative health and healing. Business was doing well before the pandemic, he said, and has actually improved since the virus began to spread.
Mr. Keyston, 66, said he didn’t like Mr. Trump’s love of Twitter or his demeanor in office. But he said he liked many of Mr. Trump’s policies, like his tax cuts and his promise to build a border wall and keep the United States out of war. And he said Mr Trump managed the economy well both before and during the pandemic.
“I think under the circumstances he tried to do his best to maintain some level of economic stability,” he said.
Now Mr. Keyston’s outlook has gotten more boring. He fears that Mr Biden will impose new restrictions that will cripple the economy, including a nationwide lockdown, an indictment that Mr. Trump has repeatedly brought against Mr. Biden even though Mr. Biden has not requested such a lockdown.
“A lockdown is going to kill this country,” said Mr. Keyston.
After the elections in the last few decades, large shifts in confidence among the partisans have become common. Republican economic sentiment fell when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 and then rose when Mr Trump was elected in 2016. The confidence reported by the Republicans themselves remained well above that of the Democrats for the entire Trump administration until the election reversed the pattern again.
“It reflects what we’ve seen in the survey data all along, that everyone associates their own political beliefs with their views on the economy,” said Laura Wronski, a researcher at SurveyMonkey. “It’s just crazy to see how deeply ingrained these beliefs are.”
Democratic views of the economy also changed after the election, but generally less so than Republicans, a pattern that was particularly strong this year. Ms. Vronsky said enthusiasm among Democrats may have been tempered because they did not see the election as an unqualified victory.
Janet Garrow, a Seattle survey participant, said she thought Mr. Biden would do a better job with the economy than Mr. Trump, but that she didn’t expect a quick recovery from the recession caused by the pandemic.
“I think the economic impact is devastating and it will take decades for people to recover,” she said.
A retired judge, Ms. Garrow, 67, said her own finances were stable. But she said the economy wasn’t working for many Americans before the pandemic.
“There has been a lot of stagnation,” she said. “Sure, you may have had a job, but has your wage or salary increased with the cost of living?”
Ms. Garrow, a Democrat, said she supported many of the policy proposals that Mr. Biden signed, such as increasing taxes on the rich and opening public colleges to students from middle-class families.
Perhaps more surprisingly, some of Mr Biden’s proposals are supported by Republican voters. More than four in ten Republicans support the tax hike for people who earn more than $ 400,000 a year. Three-quarters of Republicans support a proposal to guarantee workers paid sick leave during the coronavirus pandemic.
Liberal economists with ties to Mr Biden say the results show the popularity of his plans and the challenges of reaching supporters of Mr Trump whose economic hopes were low before he won the 2016 election.
“We live in a country where economic inequality has increased throughout our lives – across incomes, wealth and businesses,” said Heather Boushey, an economist Mr Biden would call his advice on Monday of economic advisers. “Many churches have been left behind. People are frustrated. “
“One of the things about Donald Trump is that he recognized that reality,” she said. “It would be important that people on both sides of the aisle continue to acknowledge this.”
William Spriggs, the chief economist of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. The union federation said the poll reflected “partisan policies” now embedded in economic confidence polls, and that it gave Mr. Biden a message about the importance of pushing for measures such as paid vacation that have attracted the Republican opposition in Washington, bot.
“We absolutely need it, on tens of millions of levels,” said Spriggs. “I think this is going to be the administration’s challenge – because what Americans see as common sense doesn’t mean it’s politically feasible. The Republicans in office are grabbing their noses in these polls. The problem is, will the administration take them over? “
George R. Hood, a respondent in northern Kentucky, said he identified himself as politically moderate rather than liberal. But he said the country needs to invest more in public health, education, and other priorities, and he said it made sense to levy taxes on businesses and the rich to pay for those expenses.
“I just don’t see any improvement in the socio-economic situation if we’re not willing to spend a little more money,” he said.
About the Survey: The data in this article comes from an online survey of 3,477 adults conducted by the SurveyMonkey polling station on November 9-15. The company randomly selected respondents from the nearly three million people who take surveys on its platform each day. The responses have been weighted to match the demographic profile of the United States population. The survey has a modeled error estimate (similar to an error rate in a standard telephone survey) of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, so differences less than this amount are not statistically significant.