Is false pessimism about the economy fueling support for Trump?

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Trump supporters are 44% more likely than Clinton supporters to claim that they’re paying significantly more for groceries over the last year. But in fact, they’re paying less.

This election season, it’s been widely reported that Trump supporters are much more likely than Clinton supporters to hold the opinion that the American economy is doing much worse this year than a year ago.  To understand this phenomenon, InfoScout decided to peel back the onion to better understand whether or not individual Trump supporters might actually be facing a different economic experience than their Clinton supporting counterparts.

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To perform this study, InfoScout surveyed nearly 2,000 consumers who have been using one of the company’s mobile apps (e.g., Shoparoo & Receipt Hog) to submit pictures of their receipts after every shopping trip for more than one year.   These consumers were asked a series of questions related to their views on social issues, the economy and especially their perception of price inflation versus one year ago.  Once a survey respondent’s economic perspective was captured, they were then asked whether or not they were planning to vote, and if so, which party they are affiliated with and which candidate they planned to support.   

For each of the 1,842 individual respondents who stated that they were planning to vote in Tuesday’s election, InfoScout identified purchases of the exact same grocery item in both the most recent three months ending October 31, 2016 and in the same three month period one year ago.  The prices paid for these identical items at the exact same stores (e.g., a 12.25oz box of Honey Nut Cheerios from Target) were then compared on a year-over-year basis.

The data clearly indicates that overall prices for the same items are down from a year ago and in fact are down slightly more for the Trump supporters studied due to geo-demographic attributes.  Taken by itself, this is not a very interesting or insightful finding, but when we combine these shopping behaviors with the attitudes expressed by these voters, the results are quite illuminating.

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Despite paying less for their groceries, 52% of Trump supporters surveyed believe they are paying more for their groceries now than they were a year ago.  By contrast, this number falls to 36% for supporters of Hillary Clinton.  This means that Trump supporters are 44% more likely than Clinton supporters to falsely believe that grocery prices are on the rise.  This false pessimism may be fueling their drive for a change of party in the White House – especially if Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is seen as a continuation of the current administration.  Perhaps more concerning for the Clinton campaign is that undecided voters appear just as likely as Trump supporters to incorrectly assert that they are paying more at checkout.  Clinton’s White House pursuit may very well depend on her ability to convince undecided voters that perhaps the economy isn’t so bad after all.

Jared Schrieber

Jared Schrieber

Founder & CEO

Jared is a recognized expert in the field of retail data analytics after shaping how over 500 consumer goods companies leverage retail point-of-sale data. Prior to co-founding InfoScout, Jared led product, professional services, customer operations, & business development for Retail Solutions. Jared’s storied past includes a few hacks at MIT, co-founding the Pat Tillman Foundation, throwing the javelin & playing Australian Rules Football.