Americans Most Confident in Sanders, Kasich on Economy

Americans Most Confident in Sanders, Kasich on Economy

The FINANCIAL -- Nearly half of Americans express a "great deal" or "fair amount" of confidence in Sen. Bernie Sanders (47%) and Gov. John Kasich (46%) to recommend the right thing for the U.S. economy -- the highest ratings among the five remaining presidential candidates. Americans have the least confidence in Donald Trump (30%).

These data, from an April 6-10 Gallup poll, come just three months before both parties' nominating conventions and as the candidates clamor for the remaining delegates for their respective nomination contests.

Hillary Clinton ranks within striking distance of her Democratic competitor, Sanders, with 43% of Americans saying they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the former secretary of state. However, a majority of Americans (56%) say they have "only a little" or "almost [no]" confidence in her to recommend the right thing for the economy. Americans' economic confidence in Clinton is lower now than during her 2008 campaign, when 51% were confident in her economic leadership.

Republican candidates Trump (30%) and Sen. Ted Cruz (35%) fall short of their GOP competitor, Kasich, in terms of the confidence Americans have in their handling of the economy. Majorities report having only a little or almost no confidence in Trump (68%) and Cruz (60%).

All five candidates currently inspire less economic confidence than President Barack Obama does.

Sanders' sentiments for greater economic equality may resonate with his supporters, with a platform that includes a nationwide $15 minimum wage, a detail-limited call to break up large banks, and free college tuition at public colleges and universities. Among all five candidates, Kasich is the only candidate with executive experience in managing a state economy, as governor of Ohio. Kasich also served as chairman of the House Budget Committee during the late 1990s, a time when the economy was strong and President Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress produced consecutive balanced budgets.

It is important to note that ratings of the candidates on this economic confidence measure track closely with their overall favorable ratings among national adults. Sanders (46% favorable, 39% unfavorable) and Kasich (38% favorable, 24% unfavorable) are the only two candidates who have positive net favorable ratings among U.S. adults. Americans view Clinton (39% favorable, 55% unfavorable), Cruz (31% favorable, 51% unfavorable) and Trump (31% favorable, 64% unfavorable) more negatively than positively.

These ratings of the candidates' ability to recommend or do the right thing for the economy may merely reflect their overall image in the eyes of Americans, and may have less to do with their specific experience or proposals on economic matters.

Clinton Most Trusted Among Dems; Cruz and Trump Among GOP

Kasich and Sanders may receive the most positive ratings overall on this measure because of the higher levels of confidence they evoke in independents (43% and 46%, respectively). But among their particular party's rank-and-file, Kasich and Sanders fall short of their competitors.

Republicans are a bit more likely to express confidence in Cruz and Trump, with about six in 10 saying they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in each candidate when it comes to recommendations on the economy. Kasich is not far behind, however, with a majority of 54%. Republicans report having very little confidence in Democrats Sanders (17%) and Clinton (12%).

Democrats express much higher levels of confidence in their party's candidates compared with the GOP. About four in five Democrats report having confidence in Clinton (79%) -- five percentage points higher than Sanders (74%). Though their confidence is low for Republicans Cruz (22%) and Trump (9%), about half of Democrats report having confidence in Kasich (46%).

Bottom Line

Within each contender's respective party, no candidate garners a decisively higher level of confidence among the Democratic Party and Republican Party faithful. In each party, candidates rate within five points of their competitors on economic confidence.

Among all Americans, however, Kasich and Sanders -- both of whom appear unlikely to secure their party's nomination at this point -- lead the other candidates in their perceived ability to handle the economy. Kasich is the only candidate whose economic confidence rating approaches 50% among the opposing party.

The Ohio governor's relevant experience in handling economic matters in his home state and in Congress may give him a boost in how Americans rate his ability to do the right thing economically, since his economic confidence rating is significantly higher than his overall favorable rating. Meanwhile, Trump's business background seems to buy him little from the public in terms of perceptions that he can handle the economy, as his 30% confidence rating matches his 31% overall favorable rating. Clinton, Sanders and Cruz have less experience that speaks to their ability to manage the economy, and as such, their ratings for handling the economy may simply reflect whether people view them positively or negatively overall.




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