Home News Does presidential politics depress California consumer confidence? – The Mercury News

Does presidential politics depress California consumer confidence? – The Mercury News


”Survey says” looks at various rankings and scorecards judging geographic locations, while noting these grades are best seen as a mix of artful interpretation and data.

Buzz: California’s consumer confidence about the future often falls into a funk in presidential election years.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet looked at the poll-powered results of the Conference Board’s index of statewide optimism, a benchmark that dates to 2007. To gauge political influences, the index average of the first five months of election years – 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, and 2024 – was compared with the 13 years when control of the White House is not up for grabs.


Presidential politics often makes people grumpy – no matter your candidate or their chances of victory.

This California index confirms that thesis. Election year confidence, by this math, ran on average 7% lower than the non-election periods.


This yardstick of shopper psyche comprises two factors – one eyeing today’s financial picture, the other tracking economic hopes. There’s a wide gap in the sub-index performance in these politically charged years.

The California view of current conditions was only 2% worse in election years than other times.

Conversely, their expectations for the future were 11% lower when the White House was up for a vote.

Economically speaking, nerve-wracking national politics chill the view of the future – and that anxiety can cut the urge to spend.


Could 2024 be an outlier?

California started the year in the most optimistic mood of these five election years, despite what looks to be a bruising political rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

The state’s overall confidence index was 8% above the non-election year average. But, again, we see a split now versus the future.

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California’s current conditions index in 2024’s first five months was the most upbeat about real-time finances of the five election years. It was also 33% above the average “now” scores in non-election years.

However, this year’s expectations ran 11% below the non-election “future” as California’s 2024 outlook was the second-most pessimistic of the five election years.

Bottom line

This pattern is no California quirk.

Nationally, overall confidence was 3% lower in election years since 2007. But US consumers saw 2% better current conditions – and an 8% worse future.

And look at this presidential confidence gap in seven other states tracked. When states are ranked by size of the election year divide, it’s hard to see much of a red state/blue state theme …

Illinois: 7% lower confidence overall – 1% worse for current conditions and 12% worse for expectations.

Florida: 7% lower overall – 4% worse currently, 10% worse expectations.

New York: 6% lower overall – 1% worse currently, 9% worse expectations.

Ohio: 3% lower overall – 5% better currently, 9% worse expectations.

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Texas: 2% lower overall – 1% better currently, 5% worse expectations.

Michigan: 2% lower overall – 3% better currently, 5% worse expectations.

Pennsylvania: 1% lower overall – 3% better currently, 5% worse expectations.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at [email protected]

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