February 7, 2013
If you feel more optimistic about America’s future, you probably vote Democrat. You’re younger than 29 years old. And you’re Hispanic, or, maybe, Asian.
How you feel about your standard of living increasingly stems from your political beliefs, according to data released Thursday by the polling firm Gallup. Fifty-seven percent of Americans say their quality of life is improving; the survey’s highest reading in five years.
But that result is clearly rooted in President Obama’s return to the Oval Office. Just 39 percent of Republicans say things are “getting better,” compared to 61 percent of Democrats. Only 28 percent of Americans older than 65—a major GOP base—say their lifestyle is better.
This has real economic consequences. Gallup theorizes: “If Americans are right and their living standards are indeed on the upswing, then it is possible that consumer spending may soon follow, thereby expanding economic output.”
The interplay between economic sentiment and partisanship is among the more intriguing trends observed by Gallup in recent years—evidence that the political gridlock in DC reflects a broader split among the public. Gallup’s consumer confidence measure jumped last summer after the Democratic National Convention, even as all other signals were mixed.
Not surprisingly, other demographic groups that supported Obama are optimistic. Eighty percent of 18 to 29 year-olds say their quality of life is getting better, as are 67 percent of Hispanics.