If President Barack Obama has improved the lives of average Americans, only half of them are saying so, a newly released Gallup poll shows. Answering the question that Ronald Reagan famously used to challenge Jimmy Carter in the 1980s, nearly half of U.S. adults today believe they are better off than they were eight years ago.
But 42 percent of adults say they are not, with the bulk of that group being comprised of people over age of 45 and Republican, Gallup reported Thursday. By contrast, three quarters of adults said they were better off as President Bill Clinton was leaving office in 2000.
Americans' divided feelings on their economic status is similar to findings in a Gallup poll earlier this month. Forty-four percent of respondents said they were better off financially than one year ago, while 35 percent said they were worse off. Twenty-one percent said there was no change.
Over the course of seven years, Obama oversaw a recovery from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The nation’s unemployment rate was 5 percent in December, but wages have not increased at the pace with which jobs were added to the economy during the multiyear recovery. And as the country’s first African-American president, hopes have been dashed that Obama would help narrow black and Latino economic disparities, when compared to whites.
According to the Gallup poll, the partisan divide on the question, “are you better off” mirrors the divisive atmosphere seen in Obama’s working relationship with a Republicans-controlled Congress. Most Republicans and those who lean conservative Republican denied that their lot has improved, as doing so would suggest the president had something to do with it, opined the outlet Financial.
But “unambiguously good economic times, as was the case in 2000, can override partisanship on this measure,” the Financial’s Lydia Saad wrote. The Gallup poll shows that most Democrats say they are better off than eight years ago, but more of them also report barely getting by financially, compared to Republicans.
Gallup's Election Benchmark survey was conducted Jan. 21-25, with 1,022 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The margin of sampling error was ±4 percentage points, Gallup said.