President Trump continues to hammer at Amazon (AMZN), arguing that it pays the US Postal Service too little to deliver its packages and is thereby ripping off American taxpayers. Do ordinary people agree?
We conducted a flash online survey of nearly 20,000 Yahoo Finance readers and found that 55% say Trump is wrong and think Amazon plays fair. About 32% say Trump is right and think Amazon doesn’t play fair. Nearly 13% aren’t sure.
Yet Amazon is far more popular than Trump, at least among Yahoo Finance users. Overall, 70% of our survey respondents have a positive impression of Amazon, compared with just 26% who have a positive impression of Trump. (In Gallup’s latest weekly survey, Trump’s approval rating is 39%.)
It’s very unlikely Amazon has a sweetheart deal with the Postal Service that no other bulk shipper is able to get. By law, the Postal Service must break even on every contract for package delivery, at a minimum. It sets the rates Amazon pays, not Amazon. Given the volume Amazon ships, it’s more likely Amazon is providing a valuable revenue stream to the Postal Service than taking it for a ride.
But Trump isn’t trying to win on facts. He seems to despise Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, which is a frequent Trump critic. So Trump appears to be trying to damage Amazon, the source of Bezos’s immense wealth. And Trump has succeeded, at least temporarily. Amazon shares have fallen by about 8% since Trump’s first Twitter attack on March 29, zapping about $58 billion in market value.
Trump supporters, not surprisingly, are more likely to agree with Trump and frown on Amazon. Of the 26% of survey respondents who said they have a positive impression of Trump, 77% agree with him about Amazon, and only 11% think he’s wrong. Here’s how the Trump supporters answered:
But the other 74% of respondents in our survey support Amazon by a large margin:
Trump, of course, may feel he’s winning if he manages to turn anybody against Amazon, which he probably has, given that some of his core supporters line up behind just about any stance he takes. But Amazon’s real vulnerability seems to be its reputation for ruthless competition. In open-ended comments, some of our survey respondents expressed unease with Amazon’s market heft. Example: “Amazon is becoming a monopoly.”
More than that, however, commenters unloaded on Trump. Examples:
“Trump has trouble thinking through his criticism. Amazon is helping the Postal Service, not the other way around.”
“His friends must be shorting the stock. He is hurting the little guys and the market.”
“He has some valid points, but it seems a little too personal.”
“Trump need to pay taxes and stop calling the kettle black.”
Here are our overall survey findings:
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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman