Consumer Comeback Blog

Gallup: Incumbent Re-election Tied to Voter Financial Optimism

Just in time for the presidential election, a Gallup poll indicates that more Americans report feeling better about their personal finances for the first time in five years.

When Barack Obama first took office, Gallup reported that 54% of Americans felt worse off financially, but the October 22 daily tracking poll indicated that 38% feel more financially secure than they did a year ago, the highest number recorded since Oct. 2007.

This positive personal finance sentiment is relatively common when an incumbent president is up for re-election, Gallup reports. With the exception of unusually high percentages (49%) when Bill Clinton won a second term , roughly the same percentage of Americans felt they were better off financially when George W. Bush (41%) and Ronald Reagan (39%) were re-elected.

Incumbent presidents lost the election in years when Americans were less optimistic about their personal finances including elections in 1976 (33% felt better off), 1980 (30%), and 1992 (34%).

Politically, Democrats are more likely (62%) to feel better about their financial situation than a year ago, compared to 34% among independents, and only 16% of Republicans. Conversely, only 9% of Democrats feel worse off, compared to 40% independents and 55% of Republicans.

Looking forward, 66% are optimistic about their financial situations a year from now, including 80% of Democrats, but also 62% of independents, and 57% of Republicans. Optimistic financial expectations tends to bode well for incumbent s. Clinton (66%) and Reagan (53%) won in years when voters reported financial optimism for the next year, but Jimmy Carter (36%) and George H.W. Bush lost when voter optimism was low (51%).