There are few presidents who have presided over more robust stock market performance than President Obama, as the S&P 500 has gained more than 140% since he took office in January of 2009.
But most Americans think we can do better. In a survey conducted of 2,001 registered voters by media and polling company and Fortune partner Morning Consult, 70% of those questioned said that the country has “gotten off on the wrong track.” And when asked about the issue most important to them in the upcoming election, 37% said the economy, well ahead of the next most important issue, security, which was most important for just 17% of voters.
So who do Americans think can get the economy back on the right track? Donald Trump, if their expectations for the stock market are any guide. According to the Fortune-Morning Consult poll, when asked, “under which president would the stock market do better,” more answered Donald Trump than any of the remaining candidates, including Hillary Clinton.
Not only does Donald Trump win on this question by a healthy margin, a deeper look into the numbers shows the diversity of his support.
As you can see, while Clinton has the confidence of Democrats and voters with a postgraduate degree, Trump commands respectable support from both of these groups. Trump is campaigning on the promise that he can bring the same success to the U.S. economy that he did to his business empire, and this poll shows that this message is appealing to a wide cross-section of Americans.
Of course, these Americans may end up disappointed if Trump is given a chance in the Oval Office. Since World War II, the economy has performed much better under Democratic presidents than Republican ones. Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson tried to figure out why this in a 2014 paper, and found that the difference in economic performance under various administrations was due to factors that are outside of the president’s control. In other words, it’s mostly dumb luck that the economy grows faster under Democrats than Republicans.
And that makes sense given the fact that America features a market economy whose performance is based on the ability of the private sector to grow and innovate. There just aren’t that many steps the President can take that moves the needle on the private sector’s ability to do this. And there is one caveat to our poll: 27% of the people who asked, the same percent that said Trump, said they either “didn’t know/had no opinion” on what presidential candidate would be best for the stock market.
That said, many economy watchers are worried that a President Trump could actually sink the stock market, despite the conventional wisdom that the billionaire would be good for the economy. That’s because the president does have the power unilaterally impose tariffs in response to what he considers unfair subsidies from foreign governments. The widely respected investor Jeff Gundlach said recently that he foresees a “global growth scare” if Trump secures the nomination, as investors worry about the real estate magnate’s promise to greatly increase tariffs in an effort to support domestic American industry.
But as Trump has shown time and again, he doesn’t need elite investors like Gundlach to trust him, as long as he gets enough average voters to believe his pitch.