Trump, the Economy, Trade, and Taxes

An AP-NORC Poll conducted in June 2019 looks at President Trump’s handling of the economy, taxes, and trade.

Sixty-three percent of Americans describe the national economy as good, up from 53% in an AP-NORC Center poll conducted in January during the 35-day federal government shutdown. Fewer are giving the president credit for the economy. Forty-seven percent approve of Donald Trump’s handling of the economy and 51% disapprove, not significantly different from January, when 44% approved and 55% disapproved.

Fewer approve of Trump’s handling of trade and taxes. Twenty-six percent say Trump’s tariffs help the national economy, down from 40% in August 2018, a change that is largely driven by Republicans. Few Americans (17%) say they paid less in federal taxes in 2018 compared with 2017.

While few Americans expect the direction of the country or the economy to improve over the next year, the public is less pessimistic than it was in January. Forty-four percent expect things in the country to deteriorate over the next year; in January, 52% said things would get worse. Thirty-four percent say the economy will get worse in the next year, down from 44% in January.

As usual, there are large differences between the views of Republicans and Democrats. Republicans are much more likely to approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, trade, and taxes than are Democrats or independents.

Fifty percent of Americans regard free trade agreements with other countries as beneficial to the United States economy, while 17% say they are bad for the economy.

However, fewer see tariffs as advantageous to the economy, even among Republicans. Just 26% of Americans say Trump’s tariffs will help the economy, down from 40% in August 2018. And, while 50% of Republicans think the tariffs will be beneficial to the national economy, this is down from 70% in August of 2018. Only 19% of Americans say Trump’s tariffs will help their local community, and just 15% say tariffs will help their friends and family.

Overall, 70% think Trump’s tariffs will increase the price of consumer goods in the United States, while only 8% expect consumer goods to cost less and 20% think the tariffs will have no effect.

Those who say they approve of Trump’s overall job performance are less likely to say that tariffs will increase the cost of consumer goods in the United States than are those who disapprove (64% vs 75%). Education also plays into perceived tariff effect. College graduates are more likely than those without a degree to say tariffs will increase prices (84% vs. 63%).

Thirty-three percent of Americans say their federal taxes from 2018 increased, and 31% say their taxes stayed the same, while 17% say their 2018 tax bill was lower than 2017. Fifty percent say they received a refund on their 2018 federal tax return, and 19% owed additional taxes.

The nationwide poll was conducted June 13-17, 2019, using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,116 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.