Nearly 2 in 3 Americans in a new survey say the economy is worse now than it was a year ago.
The figures released Thursday by the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project showed that 64 percent of respondents said the state of the economy is worse off today compared to the same point a year ago. In June, that figure was 73 percent.
The poll results come as the country battles its deepest recession since the Great Depression after many businesses were forced to shut down due to the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday that there were nearly 870,000 new unemployment claims for the week ending Sept. 19, up by 4,000 from the week prior.
The coronavirus recession is weighing on President Trump’s reelection prospects. Before the pandemic, the economy was seen as his strongest argument for a second term in office.
Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, told USA Today that even though the latest survey results show more Americans are optimistic about the economy than just three months prior, these perceptions are divided ideologically, with 76 percent of Democratic respondents saying the economy is worse, compared with 50 percent of Republicans saying the same.
“It could be the case that people are accurately assessing that the economy is doing better … and they’re reacting to that it is still on par to along partisan lines,” Griffin said. “The other piece of it … as we enter election season, the extent to which these things start to be part of the motivators [for people voting] probably cranks up just a little bit more than usual.”
Despite the recession, Trump has often polled ahead of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on whom voters think would be better at handling the economy.
A CNN poll released earlier this month showed Trump polling at 49 percent among respondents on economic issues, with Biden at 48 percent. A month earlier, Trump was at 53 percent to Biden’s 45 percent.
A survey from CBS News and YouGov this month had Biden trailing Trump 45 percent to 44 percent, while a Quinnipiac University Poll survey conducted in late August had the candidates tied at 48 percent.