Election 2016

Financial Insecurity Higher for Those Who Favor Trump

Financial Insecurity Higher for Those Who Favor Trump
by Jonathan Rothwell

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Many political analysts have tried to pinpoint the reasons why Donald Trump, a political outsider, has won the Republican party's presidential nomination. A new Gallup analysis offers one clue: Americans who view Trump favorably are significantly more likely than other Americans to report feeling financially insecure. The large gap in financial insecurity persists even after controlling for income, education, occupation, party affiliation and various other measures of objective economic circumstances.

This analysis is based on interviews conducted July 2015 through August 2016 as part of Gallup Daily tracking. Over this period, Gallup asked a random sample of U.S. adults two of the eight questions measuring financial worry, shown below.

Gallup U.S. Financial Anxiety Index
Questions Measuring Financial Worry
1 You are watching your spending very closely.
2 Would you be able right now to make a major purchase, such as a car, appliance or furniture, or pay for a significant home repair if you needed to?
3 At this time, are you cutting back on how much money you spend each week, or not?
4 Are you feeling pretty good these days about the amount of money you have to spend, or not?
5 Did you worry yesterday that you spent too much money, or not?
6 You have more than enough money to do what you want to do.
7 Do you have enough money to buy the things you need, or not?
8 Are you feeling better about your financial situation these days, or not?
Items 1, 3 and 5 are coded as affirmative if respondent agrees, whereas the others are coded as affirmative if respondent disagrees.
Gallup Daily tracking, July 2015-August 2016

Americans with a favorable opinion of Trump report relatively high levels of financial anxiety across seven of eight survey questions when compared with those holding an unfavorable view of Trump. For example, those with a favorable opinion of Trump are 23 percentage points more likely to say they are not feeling better about their financial situation these days, 17 points more likely to say they do not feel good about the amount of money they have to spend and 13 points more likely to say they are cutting back on spending.

Republicans and conservatives have reported higher levels of financial insecurity than Democrats and liberals since at least 2013, but these party and ideological differences do not account for the gap in financial insecurity between those who do and do not favor Trump. Republicans who view Trump favorably are still more likely to express economic insecurity on each item than Republicans who view him unfavorably.

For example, 59% of Republicans who have a favorable view of Trump report that they do not feel good about the amount of money they have to spend, compared with 45% of Republicans who have an unfavorable view of Trump. Republicans who have a favorable view of Trump are also 15 points more likely than fellow Republicans who do not favor Trump to say they are not feeling better about their financial situation these days.

Percentage Reporting Financial Anxiety, by View of Trump and Republican Party Affiliation
U.S. Adults - Favorable View of Trump U.S. Adults - Unfavorable View of Trump Republicans - Favorable View of Trump Republicans - Unfavorable View of Trump
% % % %
Watching spending 91 86 92 89
Can't make major purchase 45 44 41 38
Cutting back 67 54 66 59
Don't feel good about amount of spending money 59 42 59 45
Worrying about spending too much 31 27 31 27
Don't have enough money for wants 70 62 67 62
Don't have enough money for needs 29 26 25 21
Not feeling better about financial situation 62 39 64 49
Differences between columns 1 and 2 are statistically significant at 95% confidence intervals except row 2. Differences between columns 3 and 4 are significant.
Gallup Daily tracking, July 2015-August 2016

Financial Insecurity Particularly High Among Affluent Trump Supporters

Financial anxiety is generally lower among those with higher household incomes, but across income groups, those who view Trump favorably are more likely to be worried about their personal finances.

The largest gaps in worries about personal finances tend to be found in households earning $200,000 or more in annual income. Among these affluent households, 51% of those who favor Trump say they don't have enough money to buy what they want, compared with just 31% of those who do not favor Trump. Those who favor Trump are also twice as likely as those who do not favor Trump to report that they are not feeling better about their financial situation (52% vs. 25%). Similar differences occur on the other financial questions tested.

Percentage Expressing Financial Insecurity, by View of Trump and Household Income
Income $100K-$200K - Favorable View of Trump Income $100K-$200K - Unfavorable View of Trump Income >$200K - Favorable View of Trump Income >$200K - Unfavorable View of Trump
% % % %
Watching spending 89 81 82 68
Can't make major purchase 25 20 20 12
Cutting back 61 39 50 31
Don't feel good about amount of spending money 52 27 47 20
Worrying about spending too much 30 23 26 17
Don't have enough money for wants 64 48 51 31
Don't have enough money for needs 16 8 11 6
Not feeling better about financial situation 57 27 52 25
Differences between columns comparing >$200K income are statistically significant at 95% confidence. The same is true for $100K-$200K.
Gallup Daily Tracking, July 2015-August 2016

The differences in financial worry between those who do and do not favor Trump are smaller among households with annual income below $100,000, although even within this group, statistically significant gaps remain for seven of the eight questions.

Percentage Expressing Financial Insecurity, by View of Trump and Household Income
Income <$100K - Favorable View of Trump Income <$100K - Unfavorable View of Trump
% %
Watching spending 93 90
Can't make major purchase 55 55
Cutting back 71 61
Don't feel good about amount of spending money 64 49
Worrying about spending too much 35 31
Don't have enough money for wants 76 71
Don't have enough money for needs 36 33
Not feeling better about financial situation 64 44
Differences between columns comparing <$100K income are statistically significant at 95% confidence, except for row 2.
Gallup Daily tracking, July 2015-August 2016

Heightened Insecurity Not Readily Explained by Objective Circumstances

Donald Trump has a more positive image among people who worry about their finances, no matter how grounded those concerns are in the apparent reality of their circumstances.

The financial insecurity gap between those who do and do not view Trump favorably cannot be explained by income or other objective economic and social circumstances. The relationship between viewing Trump favorably and feeling financially insecure holds even after statistically controlling for individual factors such as age, veteran status, gender, race, ethnicity, employment status, education, occupational category, religion, party affiliation and ideology.

Likewise, the gap remains even after taking into account the local cost of living, the average income of people living in the respondents' ZIP codes and income growth in those ZIP codes. For additional details on other variables included in this analysis, see the survey methods section.

It is unclear what is behind the significant relationship between the high levels of financial insecurity and having a favorable opinion of Trump. It may be that there are unmeasured economic factors or experiences not considered here that explain the correlation, or the financial insecurity gap may be attributable to other differences -- such as knowledge, media consumption, cultural practices or some other factor -- between those who favor Trump and those who do not.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8, 2015, through August 31, 2016, on the Gallup U.S. Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 112,995 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. All reported means and statistical significance include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

To conduct further analysis, the responses to each of the eight questions were standardized and summed to create a financial insecurity index. This index was analyzed as a dependent variable in a regression that controls for whether someone favors Trump and a number of individual and geographic-level controls, including mean income at the ZIP code level as reported in IRS records, ZIP code income growth from 2013 to 2014, the share of ZIP code income from social security, the ratio of mortgage interest payments to income, average capital income in the ZIP code, the percentage of tax returns with capital income, the area's share of jobs in manufacturing in 1999 and job growth from 2000 to 2015. The cost of living, which was also included, was calculated by dividing median gross rent in the respondent's commuting zone to U.S. median gross rent. Many of these variables predicted higher or lower anxiety, but they did not account for the anxiety of Trump supporters. The Trump variable remained highly positive and significant as a predictor of financial insecurity for the general index and each subitem.

Learn more about how Gallup Daily tracking works.


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/196220/financial-insecurity-higher-favor-trump.aspx
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