Over the past couple of weeks, Donald Trump has demonstrated palpable concern for the state of the US economy, in a kind of “The president doth protest too much, methinks”, kind of way.
Not a day goes by without a tweet or a soundbite emanating from the president or his advisers, who all uniformly insist that the economy is strong. This has turned into something of a tragicomedy – their incessant boasting is seemingly undermining their own narrative by raising questions in the minds of market participants. “If things are so good, why do they have to keep reminding everybody?”, you might fairly ask.
Behind the scenes, multiple reports suggest the president is concerned, and Trump (along with Larry Kudlow) has publicly stated that the administration is discussing the prospect of more tax cuts, although not because it’s necessary to stave off a downturn, they invariably insist.
Well, on Wednesday, Trump may have gotten the worst news yet when it comes to voters’ faith in the MAGA economy.
A new Quinnipiac Poll finds 37% saying the economy is getting worse, versus just 31% who say it’s improving. It’s the first time since the election that more Americans believe the economy is getting worse than getting better.
Only 30% said the economy is “staying about the same” – that’s the lowest in history, which isn’t a good thing when those respondents who have an opinion one way or another are increasingly inclined to say things are deteriorating.
If you’re wondering whether people blame Trump’s policies for their newly dour outlook, the answer would appear to be yes. In fact, for the first time ever, the poll shows Americans think Trump’s policies are doing more harm than good.
Finally, asked whether they approve or disapprove of Trump’s handling of the economy, Americans now say they disapprove, in keeping with what’s happened during previous episodes of market turmoil.
The results come on the heels of a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll which showed support for free trade rising to the highest on record, in what could be evidence of tariff fatigue among the electorate.
To be fair, nearly two-thirds of those polled by Quinnipiac said the economy is “excellent or good”, which is an accurate assessment and should serve as a reminder to the administration to take an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to things.
Still, the 61% of Americans who said the economy is in fine fettle is down sharply from 71% in May.
The bottom line, from Quinnipiac pollster Mary Snow, is that as “trade tensions with China dominate the headlines, confidence in the economy is slipping”.
It’s a self-inflicted wound for a man with a penchant for figuratively shooting himself in the foot.