Fox News Poll: As Trump ends year one, record number rate economy 'excellent'

A Fox News Poll conducted at the end of President Trump’s first year in the White House finds more voters rate the economy positively today than have in nearly two decades.  

And they give the White House credit for that:  nearly twice as many say the Trump administration has made the economy better than made it worse: 40 percent vs. 22 percent.  One-third says the administration has not made a difference (34 percent).  

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READ THE COMPLETE POLL RESULTS.

Approval of the job the president is doing on the economy is above 50 percent for the first time.  

Trump’s overall approval stands at 45 percent, while 53 percent disapprove.  That comes close to matching his highest ratings, which he received soon after taking office: 48-47 percent (February 2017).  His low point was in the previous Fox News Poll, when 38 percent approved and 57 percent disapproved (October 2017).  

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The new poll, released Wednesday, was taken Sunday through Tuesday.  The three-day federal government shutdown started Saturday, which was day 365 of the Trump administration.  A funding agreement was reached Monday and the government reopened that evening.  

Since taking office, approval of Trump has mostly held steady with his key supporters.  For example, 86 percent of Republicans approve today and 87 percent approved a year ago.  Fifty-eight percent of white men approve vs. 60 percent last year.  And approval among white evangelical Christians stands at 74 percent vs. 76 percent last year.

Some of the recent improvement in Trump’s overall job rating undoubtedly comes from the economy.  The poll finds 49 percent now give it positive ratings (excellent or good).  The last time this many voters felt as positively was 17 years ago (59 percent, January 2001).

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In addition, a record 17 percent say the economy is in “excellent” shape.  That’s up from 6 percent in August and 3 percent in December 2016.  In trend going back to 1998, the previous high was 13 percent in June 2000.  

Still, voters feel there’s room for improvement in general.  A majority, 53 percent, remains unhappy with the direction of the country.  Forty-five percent are satisfied with the way things are going in the country today -- that’s the same number as felt that way at the 100-day mark of the Trump administration (April 2017).

Nearly half (46 percent) think the country is worse off than it was a year ago, while a large minority (40 percent) say it is better off, and 11 percent say there has been no change.  

On the family level, 39 percent say they are better off today than a year ago -- almost double the 20 percent who say they are worse off.  Many, 38 percent, feel their situation is the same.

“There is some evidence here that President Trump is starting to realize some of the political benefits of robust economic growth,” says Daron Shaw, the Republican pollster who conducts the Fox News Poll along with Democrat Chris Anderson. “But the connection is tenuous now and the White House would be wise to carefully nurture it in advance of the November elections.”

Despite the bullish economic news, voters are bearish on giving Trump a second term.  While 35 percent would vote to re-elect him, a 56 percent majority would back someone else.  These sentiments are almost identical to those in April, after he had been in office three months (36-55 percent).

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Forty-eight percent of voters say they would “definitely” vote for someone else.  The largest number saying that during the Obama administration was 42 percent (August 2011).

Among Trump voters, 52 percent would “definitely” re-elect him.  Fewer of Barack Obama’s voters, 43 percent, said they would “definitely” re-elect him at his one-year mark.  

Obama’s overall re-elect number at this point was 43 percent (January 2010).

“The economy might be doing great, but that isn’t the only thing that matters to Americans,” says Anderson, “Political divisiveness at home is a big concern -- nearly on par with a war with North Korea.”

Health care is the top concern to voters:  82 percent are extremely or very concerned about it.  

Three-quarters worry about political divisions within the country (74 percent), while about 7 in 10 are concerned about the opioid crisis (72 percent), the nation’s infrastructure (71 percent), the economy (71 percent), war with North Korea (70 percent), and race relations (70 percent).

Majorities also worry about taxes (68 percent), attacks by Islamic terrorists (65 percent), sexual harassment in society (65 percent), illegal immigration (64 percent), and climate change (57 percent).

Among Democrats, the top concerns are health care (92 percent concerned), race relations (85 percent), and climate change (84 percent).  For Republicans, it’s illegal immigration (77 percent), attacks by Islamic terrorists (72 percent), and health care (71 percent).  

The president’s best ratings are on the economy, and for the first time a majority approves of the job he’s doing (51-41 percent).  He’s also in positive territory for his handling of terrorism (48-43 percent).  

He receives net negative job ratings on immigration (40-54 percent), health care (40-51 percent), and government spending (40-52 percent).  His worst ratings are on North Korea (38-54 percent) and race relations (32-58 percent).

The number saying Trump is a strong leader has dropped significantly.  Forty-two percent describe him that way, down from 52 percent a year ago -- and a high of 59 percent in May 2016.  Over half, 52 percent, now say he is not a strong leader.  

In addition, 44 percent are confident in Trump’s judgment in a crisis, down from 50 percent when he took office (February 2017).

Pollpourri

  • Democrats (32 percent) are the top pick for blame for the government shutdown, however slightly more voters blame either Republicans (24 percent) or President Trump (13 percent).  Another 24 percent point the finger at both Democrats and Republicans equally.  
  • The new tax law gets mixed reviews:  38 percent approve vs. 37 percent disapprove, with 25 percent unable to rate it.  Approval jumps to 59 percent among the subgroup that feels they understand the law at least somewhat well (54 percent of voters).  Thirty-six percent of those familiar with the law, and 27 percent overall, think their taxes will go down under the law.  
  • Voters favor allowing illegal immigrants under age 30 who were brought to the U.S. as children to stay in the country legally (71 percent favor vs. 20 percent oppose), and oppose building a U.S.-Mexico border wall (40 percent favor vs. 53 percent oppose).
  • Views split, 42-43 percent, over whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government during the election.  Most Democrats say it did (74 percent) and most Republicans say it didn’t (80 percent).  Six months ago, views were also split: 43-43 percent (July 2017).  
  • 13 percent approve of Trump’s tweeting, while 35 percent “wish he’d be more cautious.”  Forty-eight disapprove, down from a record 57 percent in October.  Most Republicans want him to either take more care (52 percent) or approve (25 percent), while most Democrats disapprove (75 percent).
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The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,002 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from January 21-23, 2018.  The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.