Trump v. Biden

Economic Chart Edition.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden portrait style

Recognizing that presidents get both too much credit and too much blame for the economy, it is nonetheless true that voters often form strong opinions about the relationship between the occupant of the White House and their personal economic well-being (or, perhaps even more specifically, their perceptions of the general economy). This alchemy will be a major ingredient in the 2024 elections. Along those lines, WaPo has Biden’s economy vs. Trump’s in 12 charts (gift link).

I will not replicate them all, but I think these are the most important in terms of perception, even if they are not the ones that tell the overall macroeconomic story.

This one is huge and is why Trump is resurrecting Sarah Palin’s “drill, baby, drill” slogan. And since we are thinking here more perceptions than reality, I suppose I will not comment on the fact that The United States is producing more oil than any country in history (source: CNN).

The trend line is in the right direction if one wants to pay less at the pump, which could help Biden out as we head into early 2024. Of course, global events, such as concerns about attacks on shipping in the Suez Canal could spoil that trend line. (I am paying sub-$3.00 here in Alabama).

This next one is less broadly impactful than gas prices, but a lot of younger people see this as blocking their entry into the American Dream. It certainly is a stark contrast to the Trump era when interest rates were low and houses were selling like hotcakes. This can also be linked to aggressive anti-inflation measures.

Of course, the housing price issue is directly linked to the following, i.e., that the era of easy money is over.

This affects not just housing purchases, but cars and such. I know that when I bought a car in 2017, I got a 0% note. But when I bought one just this year, it was quite a bit higher than zero, at least in relative terms (although I forget the exact rate). While this did not significantly affect my decision, I do see how my recent college graduate adult children will have some choices directly influenced by this situation.

All three of the above play on perceptions and relative loss. I would note, too, that anecdotally I hear my kids and their friends lamenting the state of the economy in ways that do not necessarily conform to macroeconomic reality. Indeed, things I have heard them say directly echo what is described in this edition of The Daily, The Bad Vibes Around a Good Economy in terms of TikTok and memes about the economy, which suggests a broader ethos amongst many young people on this topic (and that exacerbates that feeling that a Really Old Man in the White House can’t possibly be the answer to the country’s woes).

Along those lines, see this CNBC piece: Is the U.S. in a ‘silent depression?’ Economists weigh in on the viral TikTok theory.

One of TikTok’s latest trends, coined the “silent depression,” aims to explain how key expenses such as housing, transportation and food account for an increasing share of the average American’s take-home pay. It’s harder today to get bythan it was during the worst economic period in this country’s history, according to some TikTokers.

I don’t want to make too much of such things, but I also think that social media is playing a role here. I know that my kids, their friends, and the students I see on campus spend a lot of time on their phones and a lot of that time is on TikTok.

At any rate, the following is the chart that largely explains it all, even if current perceptions of the current state of inflation are skewed.

Meanwhile, may it be so (via Axios): The 2024 economy could be shockingly normal.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, Economics and Business, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Kathy says:

    I’d say the charts show most of the current problems began under Adolph, and Biden has done what he can do to resolve them.

  2. CSK says:

    A bit OT, but the above pic reminds me that no matter stern/commanding/righteously angry/tough Trump pretends to look, he just can’t pull it off. He always resembles an ill-tempered toddler.

  3. CSK says:


    Well, this the first time ever the U.S. had a president who had no idea what to do but thought he knew everything about the job.

  4. @Kathy: I wouldn’t disagree. But, alas, that’s not how the public, in the main, thinks.

    @CSK: Indeed.

  5. Kathy says:


    I think Adolph almost always looks constipated.

    It would explain why he spews sh*t nonstop off his oral anus, as the proper one sees no action. Not output anyway.

  6. CSK says:


    That’s funny. I’ve always thought Putin was the one who looked constipated.

  7. Kathy says:


    Well, Mad Vlad’s oral anus isn’t as active as Adolph’s, but it does see a lot of use.

  8. gVOR10 says:

    I commented on the WAPO story that they should have started their charts four or eight years early so everyone could see Trump’s economy was just Obama’s recovery cruising along.

  9. JKB says:

    Hey, Biden promised to “veer the U.S. off” from Trump’s path for the economy, foreign relations, etc. So, success.

    President-elect Joe Biden will take office in January with a lot of promises to keep. He has pledged to enact new policies swiftly that veer the U.S. off President Trump’s current path.

    Biden ran a heavily policy-focused campaign, releasing dozens of lengthy and ambitious plans ranging from large-scale economic and environmental initiatives to broad actions on racial justice, education and health care. A significant amount of Biden’s agenda also centers on reversing or updating positions taken by the Trump administration, especially on immigration and foreign policy.

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JKB: I’m not seeing anyone making cases for why Trump’s policies were desirable–especially in the immigration and foreign policy sectors. Perhaps you can elucidate for us on these points.

  11. @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Perhaps you can elucidate for us on these points.

    This seems unlikely.

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    Tyrant for a Day Trump will first appoint JKB Secretary of State who will then withdraw the United States from NATO. All US aid to Ukraine will be stopped and any US intelligence about the war will be delivered to Putin. Before 24 hours pass Despot Don will “temporarily” suspend the United States Constitution for the benefit of the Republican Party and promise to reinstate it the same day that he releases his federal income tax forms.

  13. James Joyner says:

    @Kathy: Let’s knock off the “Adolph” nonsense. It’s just childish and does little to elevate the conversation.

  14. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Der Kleine Fhurer just takes too long to type.

  15. Fog says:

    @James Joyner: If the shoe fits…

  16. TheRyGuy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Sorry, this is the audience you’ve attracted and nurtured with your posts. The “Adolph” stuff is not even a half-step away from the insistence that things being demonstrably better under Trump and worse under Biden in many ways has absolutely nothing to do with the respective policies and actions of each President and his administration.

    The general commentary on Trump is as detached from reality here as it is most places. I mean, you can’t accuse Trump “full on fascism” and then get pissy when other people call him “Adolph” if you actually want to be a sane and responsible citizen.

  17. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kathy:Im partial to the Germlish term ‘Eichhole’

  18. James Joyner says:

    @TheRyGuy: When Trump continually uses the language of Hitler, even after being callled out for it many times from POTUS on down, it’s reasonable to call that out. I just don’t think think silly nicknames are analytically useful.

  19. DrDaveT says:


    The “Adolph” stuff is not even a half-step away from the insistence that things being demonstrably better under Trump and worse under Biden in many ways has absolutely nothing to do with the respective policies and actions of each President and his administration.

    I don’t think you’ll find anyone here who doesn’t agree that Biden inherited the shit show that Trump created. Kind of like how Obama inherited the mess Bush left behind. The sad part is that so few Americans understand how time works, and that effects follow causes.