September 28, 2018

10 years after the financial crisis, Americans are divided on security of U.S. economic system

Widening party gap in views of security of U.S. economic system

A decade after the 2008 financial crisis, the public is about evenly split on whether the U.S. economic system is more secure today than it was then. About half of Americans (48%) say the system is more secure today than it was before the 2008 crisis, while roughly as many (46%) say it is no more secure.

Opinions have changed since 2015 and 2013, when majorities said the economic system was no more secure than it had been prior to the crisis (63% in both years), according to the new survey, conducted Sept. 18-24 among 1,754 adults.

Republicans are now far more likely to view the system as more secure than they were during Barack Obama’s presidency. Three years ago, just 22% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said the economic system was more secure than before the crisis. Today, the share saying the same has increased 48 percentage points to 70%.

Views among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have moved in the opposite direction. Today, Democrats are less confident that the economy is more secure than it was before the 2008 financial crisis: Just a third say the economy is more secure – a drop of 13 percentage points from 2015 (46%).

Republicans continue to be far more bullish than Democrats about the economy

Meanwhile, the public’s views of current economic conditions – and the trajectory of the U.S. economy over the next year – have changed little since March.

About half of Americans (51%) now rate the national economy as excellent or good, among the most positive measures in nearly two decades.

As has been the case since Donald Trump took office, Republicans are far more positive than Democrats about economic conditions: 73% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say economic conditions are excellent or good while just 35% of Democrats and Democratic leaners agree.

Partisan differences in views of personal finances wider today than during Obama's presidency

Partisans also are divided in their expectations for the economy. Republicans (57%) are much more likely than Democrats (12%) to say they expect the national economy to get better in the next year. Partisan differences in opinions about the economy – current and future – are about as wide as they were in March.

Similarly, there has been little recent change in Americans’ views of their own financial situations. About half (49%) say their finances are in excellent or good shape.

Partisan differences in people’s assessments of their personal finances, which were modest during most of Obama’s presidency, have increased since then.

A majority of Republicans (61%) say their personal financial situation is excellent or good, compared with about four-in-ten Democrats and Democratic leaners (41%).

Most Americans remain optimistic about their personal financial future. Almost seven-in-ten adults (68%) expect their financial situation to improve some or a lot over the next year. Republicans (79%) more than Democrats (59%) are optimistic about their finances getting better next year.

Note: See full topline results and methodology here (PDF). 

Topics: Economic Recession, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Parties, National Economy

  1. is a research assistant focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Baxter Oliphant

    is a research associate focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.