As coronavirus’ continuing spread in the USA has a serious impact on its economic fortune compared to other developed nations, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies have polled prospective voters in the key swing states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to find out their views on the US economy.
We found that a plurality of voters in every key swing state, ranging from 41% to 48%, felt Donald Trump was the candidate who best embodied getting the economy going again. In Pennsylvania he has the clearest advantage: 48% of voters associate getting the economy going again more with Trump than Biden, while only 36% say the opposite.
The results show clear partisan influence, with likely Biden voters backing Biden and likely Trump voters backing Trump. However, likely Biden voters are more likely than likely Trump voters to say they don’t know which candidate best embodies getting the economy going again. For example, in Arizona, 92% of likely Trump voters think Trump best embodies restarting the economy. Meanwhile, 77% of likely Biden voters think Biden best embodies this characteristic but 18% don’t know.
Similarly, when asked which candidate they think would be more likely to lead a strong recovery for the US economy out of the coronavirus crisis, a plurality of voters in all the swing states (except Michigan) chose Donald Trump. In Michigan, 40% of respondents chose Biden while 38% chose Trump, a difference of 2% that falls within the margin of error. In the other states, the differential between Trump and Biden was narrower than the comparison question, given that ‘equal likelihood’ was presented as an option.
When talking about the candidates individually, Trump also has an edge over Biden on the economy. 44% to 50% of respondents think Trump could be characterised as someone who can get the economy going again. 34% to 43% say the same about Joe Biden. A notably large proportion ranging from 20% to 28% say they don’t know whether Biden could be characterised in that way.
Meanwhile, over 40% of respondents in all the states agree that the US stock market performing well means the US economy is heading in the right direction. In Pennsylvania half the respondents held this view. Since the very day following his election, Trump has often been quick to highlight stocks rising, deliberating associating their rise with his Presidency and implicitly asserting that a rise in stocks is also a good thing for the American people. Our poll suggests a plurality of Americans have accepted this logic. However, a significant proportion, 24% to 30%, neither agree nor disagree.
The trend of many voters being unsure about economic matters continues in other questions. Aside from Florida, a plurality of voters (from 34% to 38%) say they neither agree nor disagree that the stock market is a bubble. In Florida, 42% of voters agree that the stock market is a bubble while 34% neither agree nor disagree.
Likely Biden voters are more likely to believe the stock market is a bubble than Trump voters. While stocks have risen since March, the economy and earnings have not risen at the same rate. Biden voters appear more likely to believe this trend will catch up with stocks than Trump voters who might be more bullish about an economic rebound.
In four of the six states, a plurality of respondents agree that the US Economy has been over-regulated and needs more de-regulation, a cornerstone of President Trump’s first four years and a key part of his pitch for the next four. In Pennsylvania, 33% of voters agree while 33% neither agree nor disagree. In Wisconsin, 29% agree while 31% neither agree nor disagree. In all the other states except Florida (27%), over 30% of voters say they neither agree nor disagree, suggesting that while deregulation is popular among sections of swing state voters, many other voters do not seem particularly minded. At the same time, it is a cause close to his base’s heart, shown by the high support among likely Trump supporters found in our poll.
Trump has an edge over Biden on the economy. It also appears that Trump has shaped public perceptions of the economy, especially with regard to the stock market and to a lesser extent on deregulation. At the same time, there remains a significant proportion of voters who have no firm beliefs on the subject.