Fact Check: Under Donald Trump, Did a Record Number of Americans Feel Better Off?

Former President Donald Trump gave a speech at a rally in Alabama on August 21 where he lauded his own White House record and took aim at his successor.

The Claim

As he addressed the Cullman crowd, Trump said a "record" number of Americans felt "better off" in 2020 while he was in office than they were in 2016, the year of his election victory.

"Despite the pandemic, 56 percent—this was a record—of Americans, this is during the pandemic, believed that they were better off in 2020 than they were in 2016 when I assumed office," he said.

"Think of that, 56 percent is a record—and we had a pandemic on."

The Facts

In October 2020, Gallup released polling focused on "Americans' Economic Attitudes and the Election."

Respondents were asked: "Would you say you and your family are better off now than you were four years ago, or are you worse off now?"

Between August 31, 2020, and September 13, 2020, this question was posed to 1,019 U.S. adults.

Of the registered voters among them, 56 percent said they and their family were better off then than they were at the same point. Overall, 55 percent said they felt better off.

An article accompanying these results stated: "Today's 'better off' figure is easily the highest Gallup has recorded among comparable points in previous incumbents' presidencies."

Below was a table titled "Americans' Rating of Their Lives, in Presidential Reelection Years."

In this, it highlighted the same four year question being asked at comparable points during other president's White House tenures.

This was at 45 percent when asked in December 2012, towards the end of former President Barack Obama's first term.

The highest percentage in the chart was 47 percent, which came in October 2004 under George W. Bush.

The Gallup polling noted that Trump was still doing well in a number of economic-focused questions towards the end of his presidency.

"Most of the recent assessments of the economy that Gallup tracks are on the high side compared with where they stood in the final month of past presidential elections involving incumbents," the accompanying article stated.

It highlighted Trump's approval on the economy at 54 percent, above his overall job approval of 46 percent.

"Compared with past incumbents' approval ratings on the economy in the final pre-election poll, Trump fares relatively well—but not on his overall rating," it noted.

The Ruling

Fact Check - True



While Trump's comments refer to a very particular comparative timeframe, he is correct to call it a record within that framework.

In Gallup polling, a greater percentage of Americans said they were better off during Trump's presidency than had reported the same under previous presidents at comparable points.

Gallup noted the better off figure was "easily the highest Gallup has recorded among comparable points in previous incumbents' presidencies."

donald trump in alabama
Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a "Save America" rally at York Family Farms on August 21, 2021 in Cullman, Alabama. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images