WASHINGTON – A Gallup poll has encouraging news for President Donald Trump as his battle for reelection heats up: More than six in 10 Americans say they are better off than they were three years ago when he took office, and about the same number credit him for the improvement.
No other incumbent president in the past three decades has enjoyed such a high percentage of people saying they feel better about their situation. In 2012, when President Barack Obama was in the White House, 45% of Americans told Gallup they were better off than they were three years ago. In 2004, 1996 and 1992, the number was 50%.
In the latest survey, 61% say they are better off, 36% say they’re not and 3% say they’re about the same.
A strong majority of Americans (62%) say Trump should get credit for improving the economy. Thirty-seven percent say he deserves a “great deal” of credit, and 25% say he deserves a “fair amount.” Nineteen percent say he should not take much credit, and 18% say he deserves none at all.
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Fifty-one percent say Obama deserves at least a fair amount of credit for the economy, 25% say he does not deserve much and 23% say he should get none.
Twenty-nine percent of Americans say the economy is the most important issue for them when voting for president, more than those who cite health care (26%), immigration (14%), gun policy (13%), education (10%) and terrorism (5%).
In January, Gallup found Trump with his highest job approval rating (49%) since taking office. Sixty-three percent of Americans in that survey said they approved of Trump’s handling of the economy, the highest rating for any president since George W. Bush’s approval ratings soared after the terror attacks Sept. 11, 2001.
Though such numbers are encouraging for those hoping for Trump’s second term, elections haven’t always gone the way one might predict based on how many people said their situation improved.
In 2012, 52% of Americans said they were not better off than they had been, making Obama the only recent incumbent to face reelection while most of the country said their personal situation had deteriorated. Yet he went on to defeat Mitt Romney in November that year.
In 1992, 61% said they were at least as well off as they were at the start of 1989 when President George H.W. Bush took office, compared with 38% who said they were worse off. Bush nonetheless became a one-term president and lost to Bill Clinton.
The results of Gallup’s latest survey are divided along party lines: 89% of Republicans and 60% of independents say they are better off; only 29% of Democrats say that’s the case. By comparison, 60% of Democrats said they were better off in 2012, and 46% of independents and 27% of Republicans said the same.
The incumbent with the most bipartisan result was Clinton in 1996, when 49% of Republicans, 50% of independents and 53% of Democrats said they were better off.
The Gallup survey was conducted from Jan. 16-29 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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