Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Post-November Optimism Crashes After Failure of ACA Repeal

April 4th, 2017, 5:03pm by Sam Wang


Light posting these last few months. Spring term is busy. But hey, there’s always the podcast, which is not bad.

Today I post this somewhat underappreciated survey quantity, the right-track/wrong-track question. It asks whether respondents think the United States is on the right track or wrong track.

This survey has been in consistently negative territory for a long time, but there are three notable breaks in that trend.

  1. The “wrong track” number started trending down slowly in early November, right around Election Day.
  2. The “right track number started moving up in January, around the time of the inauguration.
  3. Both trends reversed around the second week of March (see the vertical line).

It’s hard to pin exact dates on the transitions because it depends on the details of the Huffington Post’s smoothing and graphing rules. In fact, the vertical line above is set at March 7th…but that point on the graph could include survey data from later dates. I need to look into that.

The graph is approximately consistent with shifts in the national mood associated with Trump’s win and inauguration – followed by the bursting of a bubble in mid-March. What caused that break in the trend? One possibility is the death spiral of the American Health Care Act (i.e. Affordable Care Act repeal), which reached an end on March 24th. Certainly the writing was on the wall for at least a week. Or it could be something else. Whatever the case, it appears that any net optimism triggered by Trump’s win has almost completely dissipated.

Update: the cause was almost certainly the failure of ACA repeal. Paul Ryan’s approve/disapprove numbers took a sharp turn at just about the same time.

Tags: President · U.S. Institutions

6 Comments so far ↓

  • gumnaam

    This negative gap seems to be a consequence of the general pessimism of the left and the conditional pessimism of the right (the condition being lack of political power). This gap may remain in negative territory till partisan polarity reduces, or the right demonstrates the ability for competent governance.

  • 538 Refugee

    Some argue Reagan went into Grenada just so America could ‘win again’ after Vietnam. Make us feel ‘great’.

    George Sr. hired us out to Kuwait for a loss.

    Clinton tried to rally support for action in Bosnia and failed. I still remember sometime after that Simon Wiesenthal standing beside Bill Clinton calling on him to do something to stop the genocide as Clinton just stood there with his lower lip quivering. He had tried, it was the right thing to do, but he wasn’t leader enough to get our allies to go along or convince the American people we should go it alone. In the end we did get involved in a limited way.

    George Jr. could be excused for the Afghanistan thing, but not Iraq. Just couldn’t resist to expand that war and turn it into an even bigger quagmire.

    Obama? Well, he couldn’t finish what Bush had started?

    Now it is Trump’s turn. Such a target rich environment. ISIS just called him “a foolish idiot”. Always a sure way to get Trump to react. Assad is giving Trump a chance to look virtuous but that possibly draws us into a shooting war with Russia. (He’ll have to check with Manafort.) North Korea? Yeah, we REALLY need to provoke the Chinese. With his proposed ‘yuge’ increase in defense spending, won’t it go to waste if he doesn’t use it? How’s that for optimism?

  • Amitabh Lath

    Very interesting. Hard shifts in these “how do you feel” variables are rare, and correlate with an event; like consumer confidence with a stock market crash.

    This variable convolves so many things it’s hard to tease out who or what is actually moving. Is it a) the tiny subset of D voters that were somewhat ok with Trump finally moving off him? Or b) middle of the road R (Jeb/Kasich voters)? Or is it c) the hard right realizing that Trump is not really a true believer?

    At a guess, a) is probably negligible to zero. So some combination, b+c.

  • LondonYoung

    I didn’t notice many people’s moods improve associated with Trump’s win and inauguration.
    The stock market went up, but then stalled in March – maybe that was it.

    • 538 Refugee

      I have to admit, his win didn’t improve my mood.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Republicans’ moods improved. This usually happens when a new President is elected: the people who voted for him have a burst of optimism.

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