Why Did Trump Outperform The Polls? The Economy

This post was originally published on this site

The odds are currently stacked against President Trump: he sits 56 Electoral College votes shy of the necessary 270 to win another term in the White House and election analysts don’t like his chances in crucial states such as Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Still, the race has been much closer than the polls, and polls of polls, indicated it would be. Given Trump’s unpopularity heading into 2020, and the unfolding Covid-19 crisis leading into election day, it’s worth digging into why he’s done as well as he has with many Americans. One obvious place to start is the economy.

The economy is the most important issue, with nearly 9-in-10 saying it’s either extremely or very important, according to an October Gallup poll. The economy is of greater weight than the prospect of terrorism, the nation’s response to the coronavirus or health care.

As the pandemic took hold of the country in the spring, 54% of registered voters said Trump would do better on the economy, according to CNN, compared to just 42% for Biden. By election day as the nation recovered from a severe recession as states imposed lockdowns to quell the virus voters were split on the issue. Still, the economy was the area that voters gave Trump the highest marks.

Recommended For You

And for good reason: workers across the country were enjoying a robust economy right before the pandemic engulfed the world.

In February 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • The unemployment rate was at a very low 3.5%; including 3.5% for whites, 5.8% for Blacks, 4.4% for Hispanics and 2.5% for Asians
  • Just 3.6% of high school graduates were unemployed, along with 1.9% of those with a bachelor’s degree
  • Median weekly earnings were up almost 3% from the year earlier to about $981

The current recession has undone much of those achievements. Tens of millions remain unemployed, thousands are facing evictions and consumers have become less confident about making large purchases over the past six months, per the Forbes Advisor-Ipsos Consumer Confidence Weekly Tracker

But it’s worth remembering that after spiking close to 15%, the unemployment rate has almost halved. Moreover, the CARES Act doled out an additional $600 in unemployment insurance, which helped millions of families avoid financial ruin. Many low-and-middle income households, for instance, were better able to handle an unexpected $400 emergency this summer than they were last year. He also appointed Fed Chair Jerome Powell who has done so much to pump money into the nation’s economy.

Trump’s economic record isn’t spotless, of course. His administration has been unable to pass a second stimulus package after many of the benefits from the CARES Act unwound months ago. Moreover, some argue that it was his handling of the pandemic that caused so many people to lose their jobs in the first place. Trump has also sparred with Powell ever since he became chair and he was handed a good economy from former President Obama.

Nevertheless, 56% of Americans headed to the polls believing they were better off than they were four years ago. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Trump garnered so many of their votes.