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Obama Gets More Credit Than Trump for the Improved Economy

Obama Gets More Credit Than Trump for the Improved Economy

by Jim Norman
Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • Fifty-six percent of Americans give Obama a great deal or a moderate amount of credit
  • Trump gets at least a moderate amount of credit from 49%
  • Few Americans give equal credit to both Obama and Trump

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are split on how much President Donald Trump is responsible for improvements in the U.S. economy over the past year, with 49% crediting him at least a moderate amount, and 50% crediting him not much or not at all. The public is slightly more likely to give Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, credit -- 56% say he deserves a great deal or a moderate amount versus 41% not much or none at all.

Public More Generous to Obama Than Trump in Giving Credit for Economic Gains
How much credit do you give Donald Trump/Barack Obama for (the past year's economic improvements) -- a great deal, a moderate amount, not much or none at all?
Trump Obama
% %
A great deal 22 24
Moderate amount 27 32
Not much 26 22
None at all 24 19
GALLUP U.S. POLL, JAN. 8-14, 2018

Trump has boasted in tweets over the past several months about record growth in the stock market, declining unemployment and robust gross domestic product growth. Critics of the president have countered that positive economic developments were already occurring during Obama's presidency and are the result of Obama's economic policies. Given these countervailing narratives, the current question asks Americans how much credit for economic improvements they give to Trump and how much they give to Obama.

Few Americans Give Credit to Both Presidents; Few Give Credit to Neither

Most Americans tend to favor either Obama or Trump when giving credit for economic improvement. Only 17% say both men deserve at least a moderate amount of credit, while another 10% say neither does. The vast majority either give Obama credit but not Trump (39%) or give Trump credit but not Obama (31%).

As would be expected, the differences in views of how much credit Americans give Obama and Trump are closely tied to politics. Republicans are far more likely to give Trump a great deal or moderate amount of credit (83%) than to give it to Obama (18%). Democrats are far more likely to credit Obama (90%) than Trump (21%).

Demographic Differences in Credit Given to Obama, Trump for Economic Improvements
Percentage who give Trump or Obama a great deal or a moderate amount of credit for improvements to the economy over the past year
Trump Obama
% %
National adults 49 56
Party ID
Democrat 21 90
Independent 46 56
Republican 83 18
18 to 34 38 68
35 to 54 51 54
55 and older 54 48
Men 55 50
Women 41 62
Annual household income
Less than $36,000 43 67
$36,000-$89,999 51 52
$90,000 and above 52 53
GALLUP U.S. POLL, JAN. 8-14, 2018

Those most likely to give credit to Obama include young adults, women and those with annual household incomes under $36,000. Those groups are also among the least likely to credit Trump.


Bottom Line

Less than two years ago, when Gallup's Economic Confidence Index was at -16 -- reflecting the public's negative perceptions of economic conditions -- Gallup asked Americans how much they blamed Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush for the economy. Americans at that time were more likely to blame Bush than Obama.

A steady diet of positive economic news since then has changed Americans' perspectives, moving the Economic Confidence Index into positive territory with a reading of +6 for 2017. The question now has become how much credit to give the current president, many of whose economic policies have not gone into effect or have not been in effect very long, and how much to give to the man he succeeded.

For now, Americans are less likely to give Trump credit (though almost half do) than to give it to Obama. In these times of expanding partisanship, it is unclear whether Democrats will be more willing to credit Trump if the good economic news continues; it is just as unclear whether Republicans will be less likely to consider him responsible if the good news turns bad.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 8-14, 2018, on the Gallup U.S. Poll survey, with a random sample of 1,499 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Poll works.

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