NEW YORK (CNN) — One under-the-radar stat in Thursday’s (Sept. 21) new poll from CNN shows that Americans have matched the most positive they’ve been about the US economy in more than 16 years. And it turns out President Donald Trump is getting more and more credit for it.
A broad 63% of Americans say the economy is in “very good” or “somewhat good” condition in a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, matching the best number on this question stretching all the way back April 2001.
Perhaps just as importantly, the number has climbed 15 percentage points since November, powered by increases among every demographic group available but Democrats.
One major reason for the increase is because Republicans have completely flipped their views of the economy now that Trump is in office. (This kind of super-partisan flip isn’t uncommon. The number of Democrats who think the economy is doing well has dropped 20 points since former President Barack Obama left office.)
But here’s the key question: Who gets the credit? There’s little doubt that Trump inherited a robust economy from the Obama years, but what’s less clear is what Trump’s effect on the economy has been a full eight months into his presidency.
Trump has repeatedly touted stock markets, which have continued hitting record highs into his presidency, and bragged about low unemployment rates and some businesses moving to the United States.
But that’s a debate for another article. What’s important for now — and definitely for the 2018 midterm elections — is that people are beginning to attribute the strength of the economy more and more to Donald Trump.
To be clear, half of Americans still attribute the state of the current economy to Obama vs. only 38% of Americans who give the credit to Trump, according to numbers from Quinnipiac University last month.
But the number giving Trump credit has doubled since just 18% gave him credit back in April — when two in three Americans said they believed Obama had more responsibility. A majority of Republicans now give Trump more responsibility — up from just a quarter in April.
But perhaps more concerning for Democrats — and encouraging for Republicans who are trying to avoid midterm losses in 2018 — is the movement among independents. A broad 72% of them said Obama was responsible for the economy’s state in April, but that’s fallen to just 50% of independents now. (It’s also worth noting that two in three independents in our CNN poll said the economy was in good shape, up 20 points since Election Day.)
In terms of re-election, it’s still way to early to draw conclusions. A lot can change in the next year. The strength of the economy definitely plays a role in re-election rates — the party in power tends to perform better when the economy is good, and vice versa. And even though the economy tends to matter more for presidential years than midterms, which are largely tied to presidential approval, it still plays a role.
The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS from September 17 to 20 among 1,053 adults. Polls from Quinnipiac University in this piece were conducted from August 9 to 15 among 1,361 voters and March 30 to April 3 among 1,171 voters. The margin of sampling error for results among the full sample is plus or minus 3.7, 3.4 and 2.9 percentage points, respectively; it is larger for subgroups.
Editorial note: This is an analysis by Ryan Struyk