Americans Expect Donald Trump's Policies To Favor The Rich

And most aren't sure whether or not they consider the president-elect a populist.
President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling Cabinet and other high-level positions for
President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling Cabinet and other high-level positions for the new administration. Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs, is Trump's choice for director of the National Economic Council.

Americans widely expect Donald Trump’s presidency to benefit the wealthy, according to a HuffPost/YouGov survey released on Tuesday, although those who voted for him believe he’ll be more egalitarian.

A 44 percent plurality of respondents expect Trump’s economic policies to mostly favor the rich, with 15 percent saying he’ll favor the middle class, 2 percent that he’ll favor the poor, and 18 percent believing that he’ll treat all groups equally.

Yet more than three-quarters of Trump’s supporters expect him to work mostly for the middle class or to treat all groups equally, with just 6 percent believing he’ll help the rich. 

By a slim margin of 30 percent to 26 percent, Americans say that Trump’s policies will help rather than hurt them personally. Another 45 percent aren’t sure or doubt his efforts will have much of an effect on them.

Sixty-three percent of Trump voters say they think his policies will help their own financial situations.

As he prepares to take office, the president-elect’s high-profile administration picks from the financial industry have belied his populist rhetoric about the need to “drain the swamp” in Washington. The “populist” label, however, means little to many Americans. More than 6 in 10 respondents say that they’re not sure whether it’s good or bad for a politician to be a populist, dwarfing both the 24 percent who consider it to be a good thing and the 15 percent who consider it a bad thing.

While 27 percent of Americans consider Trump a populist and 22 percent don’t believe that he is, the majority, 51 percent, say they aren’t sure.

Hillary Clinton and Trump supporters alike fall into the “unsure” category, but Trump voters are both more likely to embrace populism and to see the president-elect as a representative of the movement. Trump voters say by a 30-point margin, 39 percent to 9 percent, that populism is a positive quality, and by a 25-point margin, 43 percent to 18 percent, that Trump is a populist.

Clinton voters say by a 5-point margin, 26 percent to 21 percent, that it’s a bad thing for politicians to be populists, and by an 8-point margin, 35 percent to 27 percent, that Trump isn’t a populist.

During the election, neither Trump nor Clinton were able to define themselves as champions of the middle class. A June HuffPost/YouGov survey found that 36 percent of voters thought Clinton would benefit the rich, and nearly half of voters said the same of Trump.

By contrast, fewer think that President Barack Obama’s tenure benefited the rich. In the latest survey, a quarter of Americans say his economic policies favored the wealthy, 17 percent say they mostly benefited the middle class, 17 percent that they mostly favored the poor, and 20 percent that they treated all groups equally.

Most respondents also don’t think that the last eight years benefited them personally. Just 17 percent say that Obama’s policies helped their own finances, while 33 percent say his policies hurt them and 50 percent are unsure or say his policies didn’t make much of a difference.

As in past surveys, opinions appear driven largely by politics. Seventy percent of Trump voters say that Obama’s policies hurt them financially, with just 3 percent saying they helped. Among Clinton voters, 34 percent say Obama’s economic policies helped them, 9 percent that they hurt, and 51 percent that they didn’t make much difference.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Dec. 2-5 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.

The Huffington Post 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. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. 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.