While the stock market has fallen recently, it is still up since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017. But despite Trump’s best efforts, most Americans don’t even know that.
Just 40 percent of the public knows — or acknowledges — that the market is up from a year ago, with 18 percent saying that it’s currently about the same, and 23 percent that it’s lower, according to a HuffPost/YouGov survey taken earlier this month. The rest aren’t sure.
Americans who view the stock market as relevant to their own finances are likelier to have the correct answer, as are wealthier Americans and those with college degrees.
But there’s also a political effect: Although two-thirds of Trump voters correctly say that the stock market has risen, just 35 percent of Hillary Clinton voters say the same.
Those results tie into a larger pattern in which views of the economy are filtered through a distinctly partisan lens. Trump voters don’t realize that 2017 didn’t outpace 2016 for job creation. And polling during Barack Obama’s presidency found that, when Obama’s name was mentioned, Republicans grew more likely to say the economy, and their own finances, had declined, while Democrats shied away from noting a rise in income inequality.
It’s possible that like Obama before him, Trump generates sufficiently polarized feelings that rather than views of the economy shaping Americans’ views of Trump’s presidency, their views of his presidency are instead shaping their perspective on objective facts about the economy ― or at least the way they describe it to pollsters.
That’s especially true in cases involving specific statistics, like the performance of the stock market or the unemployment rate, which many people may not have a personal sense for or any reason to commit to memory. But it’s also true of the way people perceive broader trends. Merely days after Trump was elected, Gallup found, Republicans’ ratings of the current state of the economy soared, while Democrats’ plummeted ― despite the fact that Trump was still months from taking office, let alone crafting policies that would shape the nation’s economy.
And the latest HuffPost/YouGov survey finds those divides persisting. Eighty-four percent of Trump voters, but just 37 percent of Clinton voters and a third of everyone else, pronounce themselves satisfied with the current state of the economy, a wider gap than between the richest and poorest Americans, or between those working full-time jobs and those currently unemployed. Nearly half of Trump voters, but just 5 percent of Clinton voters and 15 percent of non-voters and third party voters, think the stock market will continue to climb during the next year.
Although the tendency to view economics through a partisan lens didn’t start under Trump, it perhaps ties into the unusual difficulty he saw throughout most of his first year in converting the strength of the economy into support for his work as president. Traditionally, strong economic numbers are a pretty good gauge of presidential approval, but Trump has consistently underperformed his economic indicators, failing to win much support beyond his own party.
One reason may have simply been that, in his first months in office, most people didn’t think Trump bore responsibility for the state of the economy. But at least when it comes to the stock market, Americans give Trump more credit than Obama for the performance of the stock market. Thirty-seven percent of Americans hand Trump responsibility for the stock market’s performance, while 12 percent say it’s mostly due to Obama. Another third say it’s “just the regular ups and downs of the market,” with the remainder unsure.
Nearly 70 percent of Trump’s supporters name the current president as responsible for the market’s performance. In contrast, just 16 percent of Clinton voters ― largely, those who believed the stock market was doing poorly ― think that Trump is responsible.
The public is divided over how much the performance of the markets actually matter to the nation. About a third said the stock market is a good indicator of the economy, about a third that it isn’t and the remaining third that they don’t know. Americans are also divided over how much the stock market matters to them personally, with 42 percent saying it matters somewhat or a lot to their personal finances, and 45 percent that it matters not much or not at all.
The splits are both financial and political. Two-thirds of Americans in households making $100,000 or more annually say that the stock market affects their finances at least somewhat, while half of those making $50,000 to $100,000, and a third of those making less than $50,000, say the same. A 52 percent majority of those in the highest-earning group, but just 28 percent of the lowest earners, think the stock market reflects the overall economy.
Trump voters are only slightly likelier than Clinton voters, 53 percent to 46 percent, to say the markets have some bearing on their own finances. But they’re about twice as likely as Clinton voters, 51 percent to 25 percent, to consider the stock market a good economic indicator.
Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Feb. 5-7 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.