U.S. President Donald Trump garnered increased public support for his economic agenda in December 2019, according to a poll conducted by the Financial Times and the Peter G Peterson Foundation, which noted the first time that a majority of potential voters indicated positive sentiment toward Trump's economic policies since the survey started in October 2019.
The poll, which was conducted between Dec. 16, 2019, and Dec. 22, 2019, showed that about 51% of 1,003 likely voters across the U.S. said Trump's economic agenda either "strongly" or "somewhat" supported the economy. This reflected a notable rise from November 2019, when 44% of respondents voiced support for Trump's economic policies, while 47% said his policies negatively affected economic growth.
However, some of the swing states where Trump emerged victorious in the 2016 presidential election recorded a decline in voter support for his economic agenda, according to the poll. Trump's policies received public approval from 39% of respondents in Wisconsin, and from 46% of likely voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
The poll also noted a stark difference across party lines, with 19% of Democrats saying Trump's policies had a positive impact on the economy as opposed to 89% of Republicans signaling support. Meanwhile, positive sentiment among independents improved, with 43% believing the policies supported economic growth while 33% viewed his agenda as harmful to the economy.
The improved overall voter optimism in December 2019 could be attributed to consumer spending during the holiday season, the FT said, citing Julie Hootkin, a partner at Global Strategy Group, which helped conduct the survey.
The economic confidence among voters may also be linked to the easing trade tensions between the U.S. and China, with 43% believing that the trade conflict had an impact on their personal finances, while 52% said the economy of their local community had been affected, according to the FT.
The U.S. and China are set to sign a "phase one" trade deal on Jan. 15 at the White House, President Donald Trump tweeted Dec. 31, 2019. In December 2019, the U.S. canceled additional tariffs on China that were set to take effect that month, after both sides agreed to the text of the trade deal. China also exempted a list of U.S. goods from countervailing tariffs.
A majority of respondents supported a trade truce with China, with 46% saying the U.S. should avoid the imposition of tariffs on major trading partners. In addition, 31% of respondents said the trade row with China had dragged on for too long. Meanwhile, some 23% of likely voters backed an aggressive stance against China.
Nearly two-thirds of the respondents viewed themselves as not being better off financially now compared to the start of Trump's presidential term, while 37% said their financial standing had improved.