Americans have never been this conflicted about the economy's direction

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The partisan difference in opinion on the US economy has never been this wide in the history of at least one major survey.

Various surveys of consumer and business confidence have shown decisive improvement in sentiment since the election. Both consumers and business owners are looking forward to tax cuts, and businesses anticipate a lighter regulatory burden.

But Republicans are a lot more excited than Democrats, according to the University of Michigan. Its preliminary consumer sentiment index for January was largely unchanged at 98.1, according to a report on Friday.

Economists had forecast that the index would rise to 98.5, the highest level since 2000.

According to the survey, the average of positive and negative references to government policies rose to a record high of 44% in early January. That's more than double the average of 20% during the last six of President Barack Obama's eight years in office.

"The postelection surge in optimism was accompanied by an unprecedented degree of both positive and negative concerns about the incoming administration spontaneously mentioned when asked about economic news," Richard Curtin, the chief economist of the surveys of consumers, said.

The index that gauges expectations had a "stunning" 43-point gap in early January. "Needless to say, these extreme differences would imply either strong growth or a recession," Curtin said. "Since neither is likely, one would anticipate that both extreme views will be tempered in the months ahead."

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