October 28, 2020

Peterson-FT Economic Monitor Tracks 12 Months of Voter Views on Economy, Fiscal Outlook and Coronavirus

With less than a week to go before Election Day, the Financial Times and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation have wrapped up a year-long initiative to track voter sentiment on economic and fiscal issues for the twelve months leading up to the 2020 election.

The Financial Times-Peterson US Economic Monitor launched in November 2019, offering a monthly snapshot of voter views on the state of the economy and the national debt, and examining how these factors affect Americans’ perspectives on their personal financial outlook.

Key trends and findings include:

The National Debt

The poll showed consistently over the past year that voters care strongly about the national debt, believe it is heading in the wrong direction, and want leaders to prioritize action to address it.

Key finding: In October’s poll, 94% of voters agreed that it is important for the next president to pay for his priorities so that they don’t increase the $3 trillion federal budget deficit, once the pandemic is over.

The Economy

Despite significant challenges caused by the pandemic, voters views about the state of the economy and personal finances remained relatively stable over the past year.

Key finding: Consistently around one-third said they are financially better off since President Trump took office, another third saying worse off, and the rest saying no change.

The Coronavirus Pandemic

Voters have gradually become more pessimistic about the trajectory of the pandemic – including the amount of time needed for economic recovery and the likelihood that it will get worse – as it has gone on longer.

Key finding: In April, two-thirds of voters wanted social distancing to end within three months; that is completely flipped now, with approximately two-thirds preferring it to end in three months or more.

Video Discussion

On October 26, Peterson Foundation CEO Michael Peterson and Financial Times Managing Editor Peter Spiegel were led in conversation by the FT’s Washington Correspondent Lauren Fedor. The panel discussed the results of the Economic Monitor, how views on the country’s fiscal and economic outlook evolved during the pandemic, and what the results may imply for the 2020 election.

Additional Resources

To dive deeper into the data, you can access:

Monthly infographics, outlining the most important results from each month’s poll, including questions on current events and breaking news.

View Infographic Series

Monthly “topline” results, showing breakdowns by demography as well as a look at battleground states.

View Monthly Results


The Financial Times-Peterson Foundation US Economic Monitor is a monthly poll of voters on the state of the economy and the national debt. The online poll is conducted monthly by Democratic polling firm Global Strategy Group and Republican polling firm North Star Opinion Research. It includes an oversample to get a closer look at voters in battleground states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The poll surveyed an online sample approximately 1,000 likely 2020 voters each month, spanning socioeconomic groups. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points at 95 percent confidence level.

Image credit: Photo by Ben Carlsen/Getty Images

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