There are 19 Democrats and four Republicans currently in the running for the 2020 presidential election. But which of these candidates would be best, financially, for voters?
The Democratic nomination is one of the largest and most competitive in U.S. history, with frontrunners like former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders going head-to-head over heated topics such as student loan debt forgiveness, Social Security and more. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is the current leader of the Republican nomination and plans to make healthcare a primary focus of his 2020 campaign.
To gauge how voters will approach the 2020 election, GOBankingRates surveyed 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older about their attitudes toward the presidential candidates as well as their views on the economic issues plaguing Americans today. The results show what Americans are seeking in their ideal presidential candidate.
- Key Findings
- Americans Continue To Support Trump for President
- Americans Won’t Vote For a Candidate With Bad Financial Habits
- Healthcare Is Still a Key Issue for Many Americans
- More Than One-Third Are Still Unsure Who They’ll Vote For in 2020
- Support for Trump as president has increased from 2016. During the previous presidential election, 29.5% of Americans said Trump was the best candidate for their finances. That percentage has grown to 40% for the 2020 election.
- Americans see Trump as capable of leading the country through a recession. Nearly 42% of Americans said Trump would be the best leader in an economic downturn. Sanders and Biden trailed considerably behind Trump, receiving only 27% of the responses — combined.
- About 72% of Americans wouldn’t vote for a candidate whose finances are in trouble. Democratic and Republican respondents were mostly in agreement on this point, at 77% and 71%, respectively.
- A majority of survey respondents prefer a president with business experience. Nearly 59% said their ideal president would possess business experience, compared to 48% who want their president to have political experience. Democratic voters tended to favor political experience, whereas Republican voters were more likely to side with business experience.
- Democrats and Republicans disagree on the most important economic issue. The most popular answer from Democratic respondents was healthcare, at 32%. For Republicans, Social Security received the highest response rate by a small margin, at 23%.
- Presidential candidates have room to sway more than one-third of voters for the 2020 election. A whopping 38% of Americans still aren’t certain about who to endorse in the upcoming election. Specifically, respondents ages 35-44 are the most unsure about their vote.
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The state of the economy played a pivotal role in the 2016 presidential election, so it’s no surprise that American finances are once again at the forefront of the conversation as the 2020 election looms. In 2016, a GOBankingRates survey found that 29.5% of respondents thought Donald Trump was the top candidate for their money — and today, Americans continue to endorse the current president.
For the 2020 election, 40% of Americans believe that Trump is the best option for them financially. And, 89% of Republican survey respondents chose Trump as their ideal candidate. On the other side, 27% of Democratic survey respondents said that Biden is the best presidential candidate, followed closely by Sanders and Warren at 26% and 24%, respectively.
Overall, Trump was the clear favorite among survey respondents. The closest Democratic candidate to Trump in terms of popularity was Sanders, who claimed 14.4% of all the responses. Surprisingly, 16% of Americans chose “other” — the second-most common choice among respondents — when asked about the best presidential candidate for their money, which might indicate that no candidate currently checks all the boxes for many Americans in regard to personal finance issues.
Survey question: Which U.S. presidential candidate would be best for you financially if elected?
|Demographic||Presidential Candidate for 2020 Election|
|Donald Trump (R)||Bernie Sanders (D)||Joe Biden (D)||Elizabeth Warren (D)|
|Ages 65 and older||48.7%||4.66%||19.17%||9.33%|
Age remained a considerable factor in determining Americans’ political leanings. Older demographics were more likely to think that Trump would be the best candidate from a financial perspective, with 49% of both 55- to 64-year-olds and respondents ages 65 and older selecting the current president. Young voters, however, still “feel the Bern” — 28% of 18- to 24-year-olds favored Sanders over any other presidential candidate.
Although Americans’ values and beliefs have become increasingly polarized over the past decade, many people want to elect a president that will help them achieve their personal finance goals, in addition to growing the economy. So, preparations for the next recession should play a prominent role in the upcoming election. GOBankingRates’ survey found that Americans are confident in Trump’s ability to bring the country out of an economic downturn.
Survey question: Which presidential candidate would do the best job at getting the U.S. out of a recession or economic downturn?
|Presidential Candidate||Response Rate|
|Donald Trump (R)||41.7%|
|Bernie Sanders (D)||14.2%|
|Joe Biden (D)||12.9%|
|Elizabeth Warren (D)||9.3%|
|Kamala Harris (D)||3%|
|Pete Buttigieg (D)||2.4%|
|William F. Weld (R)||2.3%|
|Cory Booker (D)||1.4%|
Nearly 42% of Americans believe that Trump would be the best leader to boost the U.S. economy should another recession strike. Sanders and Biden fell considerably behind Trump, capturing only 14% and 13%, respectively, of overall survey responses.
Democratic respondents, however, had faith in Biden’s ability to pull America out of an economic downturn. He received 28% of Democratic responses, with Sanders and Warren trailing closely behind at 25% and 23%, respectively.
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Survey respondents didn’t seem willing to take a chance on presidential candidates who aren’t savvy with their finances. Nearly 72% of Americans said they wouldn’t vote for someone who demonstrates poor financial habits or whose personal finances are in a bad state. Republican and Democratic answers were fairly aligned, with 71% of Republican respondents and 77% of Democratic respondents agreeing with the statement.
In an August 2019 report, Forbes examined the net worth of each presidential candidate and graded everyone using a financial transparency score from zero to five. Biden, Sanders, Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris were all given financial transparency scores of four, which signifies that they’re more open to discussing their personal finances with Americans. Trump, on the other hand, was given a score of zero, meaning his lips remain sealed regarding any personal finance questions.
Many Americans are also torn between voting for a candidate with political experience and a proven track record, or someone with fresh ideas and a different approach to personal finance and economic growth.
Perhaps surprisingly, 59% of overall survey respondents said they would rather have a president with business experience, compared to 48% of respondents who prefer a president with political experience. However, Democratic voters favored political experience over business experience — at 77% vs. 45%, respectively — whereas Republican voters sided with the majority answer, at 85%.
“In my experience, people prefer candidates with business experience because of our natural distrust of politicians, and our encounters with government entities are normally forced — like going to the DMV or trying to get Social Security,” said Patrick Glynn, who has a master’s degree in American studies from Columbia University and a master’s in legal studies from Washington University in St. Louis. “Our relationships with businesses are voluntary, and our perception of success in business equates to efficiency and accountability. If a business doesn’t live up to your expectations, you have the power of purchase to influence that business’s success.”
Many people with business experience have run for president, including Trump. However, it’s important to remember that there are considerable differences between running a business and leading the federal government, including problems regarding domestic and foreign policies.
Although Americans do fear an impending recession, it seems that the presidential candidates’ stances on other economic issues will help determine who voters choose in the 2020 election.
Democratic survey respondents agreed that healthcare is the most important personal finance or economic issue, at 32%. For Republican respondents, however, Social Security barely edged out healthcare, by a fraction of a percentage point.
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Overall, healthcare was the most important personal finance or economic issue that Americans are concerned about, claiming a quarter of the responses. The second-most popular answer choice was Social Security at 19%, followed closely by the cost of living at 18%.
Any candidate who stumbles over healthcare in the debates may be in trouble for the 2020 election. The Trump administration has attempted to make considerable changes to the American healthcare system, and part of Trump’s reelection campaign strategy will lean heavily on creating an alternative to former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Many Democratic presidential hopefuls are backing some version of “Medicare for All,” which aims to eliminate private health insurance and guarantee healthcare for everyone.
Though many Americans already seem to have their ideal candidate picked out, 38% of survey respondents are still unsure about who they’ll vote for next year.
Survey question: Which of the following best describes you?
|Answer Choice||Response Rate|
|I am not sure how I will vote in the 2020 election.||37.6%|
|I plan to vote for a Republican in the 2020 election.||29.3%|
|I plan to vote for a Democrat in the 2020 election.||26.6%|
|I plan to vote, but neither Democrat nor Republican.||6.5%|
Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents plan to vote Republican, compared to 27% of respondents who are going to vote for a Democrat. And, 7% of Americans don’t plan to vote for either party.
Respondents ages 35-44 were the most uncertain about who they would choose in the upcoming election, with 46% of voters in this age group selecting that response. Meanwhile, respondents ages 65 and older were the most certain about how they will vote in the 2020 election. Generation Z — ages 18-24 — were most likely to vote Democratic at 36%, whereas older baby boomers were more likely to vote Republican at 44%.
There’s still time to decide which candidate aligns the most closely with your personal finance goals and economic views. With more presidential hopefuls than ever before, it’s important to educate yourself on the 2020 election by learning more about each candidate’s policies and proposals.
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Last updated: Oct. 21, 2019
Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older from across the country between Aug. 14, 2019, and Sept. 4, 2019, asking six different questions: (1) Which U.S. presidential candidate would be best for you financially if elected? (2) What do you think is the No. 1 personal finance or economic issue the next U.S. president should focus on when elected? (3) Do you agree with the following statement: I will not vote for a U.S. presidential candidate who has bad personal finances (e.g., one who is drowning in debt) or has bad personal finance habits; (4) Consider the following hypothetical scenario: Which presidential candidate would do the best job at getting the U.S. out of a recession or economic downturn? (5) Which of the following characteristics would your ideal president have? Select all that apply; (6) Which of the following best describes you? GOBankingRates used Survata’s survey platform to conduct the poll.