The new Quinnipiac Poll, released Wednesday, finds that – for the first time this year – more people disapprove than approve of the way President Trump is handling the economy.
Before the pandemic racked the economy, President Trump had expected the economy would be the basis of his re-election campaign – as he took credit for high stock prices and low unemployment. He still has high stock prices, as the market has roared back from a bad March. But while unemployment rates have come down from peaks reached this spring, they remain higher than at the worst of the 1980s double recessions or the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
The youngest voters – the ones most likely to be unemployed and least likely to have significant investment portfolios — are leading the way in disapproval of the president’s handling of the economy. In the July poll, 30% of voters aged 18 to 34 approved of his handling of the economy, and 65% disapproved, leading to the difference of 35 percentage points shown in the chart above. A month earlier, younger voters split 48-46 in favor of the president on the issue.
The only age group that still likes Trump’s handling of the economy is those in the 50-64 age range, approaching retirement and perhaps with sizeable 401k retirement accounts, but still below the age when the virus appears to be most dangerous. They support his handling of the economy by a 53-45 margin.
Perhaps not coincidentally, that age group was the only one that the poll found to be supporting Trump over Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee. The 50-64 age group split 47-45 in favor of Trump. Overall, the poll found Biden to be ahead by 15 percentage points, 52-37. Biden did by far the best among the younger voters, leading 64-22 among that group.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in June people aged 20-24 had an unemployment rate of 19.8%, and those aged 25-34 had a rate of 11.7%. In February, before the pandemic struck, the rates were 6.4% and 3.7% respectively. The overall rate in June was 11.1%, up from 3.5% in February.
President Trump has pushed hard to reopen the economy, hoping to show a sharp recovery before the election. But with the virus growing rapidly in some parts of the country, there has been a growing chorus of critics saying the openings came too soon, and some states are reversing course.
On the virus, President Trump has not done a good job of persuading most people. Substantial majorities of each age group say they disapprove of his handling of the pandemic and do not trust what he says on the issue. There are majorities in each age group who think masks should be required in public and think people should avoid bars, restaurants and large gatherings.
A majority of Republicans disagree on some of those issues, trusting Trump, favoring going to restaurants and opposing mandatory masks. But a two-to-one majority of Republicans – 63% to 31% — say they are opposed to large public gatherings at this time. The proportion of people opposing such gatherings was 80% or more among each age group. Among Democrats, the margin was 99% to 1%.