The public is more upbeat about the direction of the country and the economy, less likely to be looking for a job and less stressed. Yet they're not giving President Trump much of the credit, the latest IBD/TIPP Poll shows.
The January poll finds 35% approve of the job Trump is doing and 58% disapprove — a gap of 23 points, which is unchanged from last month. Trump's favorability rating is 36%, with 57% saying they have an unfavorable view of the leadership he's providing — a gap of 21 points.
However, the poll also found that 45% now approve of how Trump is handling the economy, which is up from 40% in December, and which represents a more than 10-point gain from August, when just 34% approved of his handling of the economy. And 41% approve of how he's handling the threat of terrorism, which is also an increase from prior months, and likely a result of the defeat of ISIS.
The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index also surged in January, climbing to 55.1— a 6.2% gain — as tax cuts, the stock market, and economic growth improved American's outlook on the economy and their personal finances.
"Most Americans give credit to Trump for his handling of the economy," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducts the monthly poll for IBD. "The GDP growth, the record employment levels, and the spectacular performance of the stock market since the election are boosting consumer sentiment. In addition, many welcome the recent tax reform."
"But this isn't translating into higher overall approval numbers," Mayur said, "because Trump never gets fair treatment in the daily discourse of the mainstream media — some of whom are still in denial that he won the election. There is underreporting of the positive and overreporting of the negative. His success in many areas — such as the defeat of ISIS — are the best kept secret of the media."
The nationwide poll was conducted from January 2 through January 10, and includes responses from 901 adults, giving it a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points.
Trump's low approval numbers also come despite a noticeable improvement on several other indicators tracked by the IBD/TIPP poll, many of which are at higher levels than during the Obama years.
For example, 57% in the latest poll say the economy is improving. That's up from 53% in December.
Just 17% think the economy is in a recession, which is down from 19% in December and from 26% a year ago.
Meanwhile, 44% say they are satisfied with the direction of the country, which is up from 41% a month ago, and way above the 37% average during President Obama's two terms in office.
The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index has been in positive territory — meaning an index reading of over 50 — for 16 straight months, and is now just below it's all time high since this Index started in 2001. In the previous eight years, this monthly index topped 50 only nine times.
The six-month personal financial outlook index jumped 4.9 points to 64.0, the highest since January 2004.
The IBD/TIPP Quality of Life Index saw a 7% bump in January to reach 60.9, the highest level since Trump took office. In Obama's last full year in office, this index averaged 54.6.
The Financial Related Stress Index is now at its lowest level — 51.5 — since IBD/TIPP started tracking this in 2007. Just before the November election, this index stood at 56.
IBD/TIPP also tracks unemployment. This month, the share of adults looking for work was 11.3%, which is down from 13.8% a year ago.
Other polls have found similarly wide gaps between the public's view of the economy and of Trump. The latest Quinnipiac poll, for example, finds that 66% say the economy is "excellent or good," which is the highest number recorded by this poll. Yet Trump's approval in that poll is just 36%.
As IBD has pointed out, the gap between economic optimism and presidential approval is unusual, since they have tended to move in tandem. That suggests that Trump's approval rating could climb if the press and the public decided to give him credit for good times. The chances of more positive press coverage seem remote. A Pew Research Center study found that 95% of stories about Trump in his first two months in office were negative, the most of any president it looked at.
Mayur noted that "In the current atmosphere, getting good job approval numbers is really difficult. However, it may not mean much when it comes to winning re-election, if the economy continues to do well — most will rather have someone with a proven track record."
Methodology: The December IBD/TIPP Poll was conducted January 2 through January 10. It includes responses from 901 people nationwide, who were asked questions by live interviewers on phones. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points.
The IBD/TIPP Poll has been credited as being the most accurate poll in the past four presidential elections, and was one of only two that correctly predicted the outcome of the November elections.
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