It didn’t take long after the U.S. economy showed signs of a potential economic downturn for conservative media figures to start arguing that Democrats were hoping for a recession in order to tank President Donald Trump’s chances at reelection. “Recession is at the top of Trump haters’ wish list,” a New York Post columnist wrote. Stephen Moore, a Trump adviser, cited his experience with a lone woman in San Francisco for a Washington Times column titled “Democrats Rooting for Recession.”
To be fair, columnists did have one data point to back up their contention. Bill Maher, the HBO host and provocateur, had openly declared: “We have survived many recessions. We can’t survive another Donald Trump term.”
It turns out the multimillionaire comedian isn’t representative of the typical Democrat.
A new HuffPost/YouGov poll found just 9% of Democrats were hoping for a recession, while 72% were not. Among all Americans, 6% were hoping for a recession, and 70% were not. The group most likely to root for a recession? People ages 18 to 29, 13% of whom were hoping for a recession. A slight majority of the under-30 crowd, 53%, did not want an economic downturn.
Nonetheless, 71% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believed most Democrats were rooting for a recession, while just 13% said they were not.
A recession, which economists typically define as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, would likely harm Trump’s reelection chances. In polling, voters are more likely to approve of Trump’s handling of the economy than they are to approve of his job performance more broadly.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll also found a plurality of Americans now expect a recession in the next year: 49% said a recession was “very likely” or “somewhat likely” in the next 12 months, while 32% said it was “not very likely” or “not at all likely.” Among registered voters, a majority (56%) say a recession is very or somewhat likely in the next year.
There was a significant partisan split on the question, with Democrats seeing a recession as likely by a 74%-to-13% margin. Just 30% of Republicans think a recession is likely, while 60% say the opposite. A number of Democratic-leaning subgroups also thought a recession was coming. A majority of women, 18-to-29-year-olds and African Americans all thought an economic downturn was likely.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.