Americans are increasingly optimistic about their finances, with a rising majority of voters seeing their situation improving or staying the same in the first year of Donald Trump’s administration, a new McClatchy-Marist poll finds.
The ranks of voters who see their finances improving in the next year has jumped from 28 percent in July to 38 percent now.
The total who see finances improving or staying the same rose from 84 percent to 88 percent.
The rise in overall optimism has been driven mainly by white Americans.
“There’s a racial component to this,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the survey. “Clearly the number of folks who think it’s going to get better is growing, but the number of whites actually doubled in terms of thinking it would get better. So this optimism is much more about the growth among white people.”
People are desperate out there. Trump wasn’t elected for the good of the country, he was elected because people think he’s going to put money in their pockets.
Lee Harwell, 62, an independent in Sequim, Wash.
Fully 46 percent of African-Americans think they will be better off after a year, a higher percentage than among whites or Latinos. But 1 in 5 believe their situation will be worse, also more than other groups.
“The number of African-Americans who thought their finances would get worse actually went from 11 to 19 percent (since July),” Miringoff said.
In the first months of Obama’s presidency, as the country still grappled with the Great Recession, only 28 percent of Americans had a rosy outlook of their economic future.
Some people surveyed said their view of their financial future isn’t affected by who is in the White House.
“I’m not worried. I stayed working through the recession, so as long as there’s carpentry out there I’m pretty optimistic,” said Matthew Adam, 28, who works as a carpenter in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Laura Holt, 61, of Garden Grove, Calif., voted for Trump in hopes he’ll improve the business climate. She said she sold her family business – a plumbing, heating and A/C company – two years ago because that climate was hostile.
12 percent Americans surveyed who think their personal family finances will get worse in the next year. Among Democrats, that number was only slightly higher – 18 percent. Half thought they would stay the same, and 38 percent thought they would improve.
“All the regulations killed our business,” Holt said. “It was like I don’t want to be in business anymore, we were regulated to death.”
Young people have the most positive outlook, according to the poll, with almost half of those aged 18 to 44 year thinking their situation would improve in the next year. Only 27 percent of Americans who are 60 or older said the same.
“The last time we had a Republican in office we had a guy who was reasonably well educated, with a history of political office, and he led us down the road to ruin,”said Lee Harwell, 62, an independent voter who owns a commercial cleaning business in Sequim, Wash. “So I don’t really believe that a guy with the least experience of any person ever elected who is accustomed to bullying to get his own way will improve the country’s financial circumstances.”
More than half of Republicans surveyed said they still believe the American dream is achievable, that people who work hard can improve their standard of living. Only 21 percent of Democrats said the same.
Harwell said he believes that Trump’s slogan – “Make America Great Again” – appealed to that number who believe the American dream is being lost.
Only 32 percent of women compared to 45 percent of men thought they would see their family finances improve in the first year of Trump’s presidency.
“People are desperate out there,” he said. “Trump wasn’t elected for the good of the country, he was elected because people think he’s going to put money in their pockets.”
Samantha Myers, 27, a social worker from Houston, Texas, supported Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton but is trying to keep an open mind about Trump.
“I’m kind of hoping with Trump’s background maybe we could shake up the economy and get our economy moving again,” Myers said.
A growing majority of Americans think it will be more difficult for the next generation to get ahead. In a February 2014 poll, 78 percent of adults thought it would take more effort for the next generation than it did for them. In the most recent poll, that number has climbed to 84 percent. Among African-Americans, it climbs even higher to 91 percent.
Ione Reese, a 65-year-old retired bank teller in Nacogdoches, Texas, said she voted for Trump because she believes he will give the next generation a better shot.
“I hope he will improve the economy,” she said. “I’m already 65, I’m not looking to go anywhere, but I have kids and grandkids who I want to do better. I think that he sent out a message of hope that he wants to change things, get us better jobs, and get everything straightened out.”
Eighty-five percent of Democrats said they want the government to focus on raising the minimum wage and providing job training and education to move the economy forward. Most Republicans – 60 percent – think the government should focus on cutting corporate taxes and reducing regulations on businesses.
The poll shows that Republicans are feeling good about Trump’s promise to bring back jobs to the U.S., with 71 percent saying they expect it to be easier to find a job in the next year. 63 percent of Democrats think it will be harder to find a job in the first year of Trump’s White House.
Anita Kumar and David Goldstein contributed.
HOW THE SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED
This survey of 1,005 adults was conducted Dec. 1-9, 2016, by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with McClatchy. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from ASDE Survey Sampler Inc. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Respondents in the household were randomly selected by first asking for the youngest male. This landline sample was combined with respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers from Survey Sampling International. After the interviews were completed, the two samples were combined and balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey 1-year estimates for age, gender, income, race, and region. Results are statistically significant within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. There are 873 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. The error margin was not adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.