If President Trump's re-election prospects hinge on the success of his economic policies, his prospects for 2020 look pretty good right now, a new IBD/TIPP Poll suggests. Americans aren't just more optimistic, but groups not known to be Trump-friendly in their politics are among the most optimistic of all.
We noted in an earlier piece that the U.S. seems to have undergone a significant mood shift, with the share of Americans saying they're optimistic about the direction of the country rising above 50 for the first time since January 2005. Along with that, the Presidential Leadership Index jumped 3.2% to 45.7 in August, the highest since Trump's first month in office.
Those data have been confirmed by the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index, which rose 2.8% to 58 in August, its highest since January of 2004. With GDP growth at 4.1% in the second quarter and unemployment currently at an ultralow 3.9%, it's no wonder.
That economic optimism number for August, by the way, is the highest of Trump's presidency. And it is the longest stretch ever — 23 months — above the make-or-break level of 50 for the optimism index.
The near-eight-year rebound from the Financial Crisis marked a giant dead spot in the U.S. economy of slow economic and jobs growth. But that now appears definitively over, at least in most Americans' minds. That can be seen in one of IBD/TIPP's lesser-known indicators, our "Financial Stress" index. Our pollster, Raghavan Mayur, began keeping it in December of 2007, the very month the financial crisis turned into the Great Recession.
For years, that index showed Americans were highly stressed-out about their finances, with monthly index numbers routinely in the 60s. Remember, the higher the index, the more it's a sign of high financial stress. While that index has averaged about 59.4 since its creation, it peaked at 74 in October of 2008, during the depths of the economic crisis and just a month before the presidential election.
But this month, that same index crashed below the 50 level to 47.4 — its lowest level ever. People are feeling more secure in their finances than they have at least since the early 2000s.
What's intriguing about this, as we noted, is that some of those who feel the economy's reviving "animal spirits" most keenly aren't necessarily big Trump fans.
Those aged 25-44, roughly the same demographic cohort as the millennial age group, saw their optimism about the economy jump to 63.7 in August, a 10% gain from July. That, too, is a all-time high.
Then there are the independents. They make up more than a third of the electorate these days. Though not organized, they are a de facto third party in American politics. Their optimism about the economy jumped 7% in August to 57.2.
It's important to note that these are key parts of the electorate that both Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. If both groups are overwhelmingly happy with how the economy's going, how likely are they to vote out those now in power? Especially now that, at 52.1, our Federal Economic Policies index is at its second-highest level since December 2006.
Where's The Wave?
We keep hearing about a "Blue Wave" building among Democrats that will sweep them back into power in Congress. And maybe there is one. Democrats and Republicans have rarely in modern history seemed so at odds. Trump gets almost no love in polls from Dems. However, in this month's IBD/TIPP Poll, we asked Americans who they would like to see win in this November's midterm elections. It was evenly split: 45% for the GOP, 45% for the Democrats.
Sound like a Blue Wave to you?
We're not the only pollster to notice this, by the way. The Rasmussen Reports survey asked Americans who deserves credit for the strong economy. Most (50%) said Trump, while just (40%) said Obama. So it's seeping into the common wisdom, despite the mainstream media's increasingly desperate attempts to poo-pooh it: Trump's policies have worked, creating the kind of economic growth that many liberal pundits and media types claimed was a thing of the past.
The point is, for all the trauma and hysteria that President Trump's tweets cause among the media, average Americans seem mostly to ignore it. But they like his economic policies — based on lower taxes and deregulation — and the faster growth and plentiful jobs that come with them. If this were an economic report card, Trump would get an 'A.'
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