“It’s the economy, stupid.”
While you’ve probably heard that phrase before, it’s important to understand its context. The phrase was coined by longtime Democrat strategist and Clinton ally James Carville, who hinged the success of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign on the U.S. economy — namely, the early 1990s recession that depressed President George H.W. Bush’s popularity.
In the end, he was right: The slumping economy helped Bill Clinton win the White House.
And that’s precisely why Republicans — who sit on a booming economy — will keep control of Congress this year. Carville’s logic certainly applies in 2018, which political pundits and the liberal media have eagerly proclaimed the year of a “blue wave.”
For the first time in months, a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll showed Republicans leading Democrats in a generic congressional ballot. Nearly 40 percent of registered voters claimed they would back the Republican candidate in their district, while only 38 percent said the same about a Democrat.
Generic polls bounce around, but the fact Republicans are bucking the liberal media’s “Democrat landslide” narrative speaks volumes.
Voters are especially supportive of Trumponomics. Almost 45 percent of Americans say they trust Republicans more to handle the economy, compared to just over 30 percent for Democrats. According to Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult’s co-founder and chief research officer: “Not only have Republicans increased support on the generic congressional ballot, they are now trusted more to handle the most important issue when voters head to the polls: The economy.”
Don’t just take his word for it. Priorities USA, a liberal super PAC, recently urged Democrats to shift their focus to the economy ahead of the 2018 midterms, and not “be sidetracked and distracted by Trump’s latest tweets.” The pro-Clinton PAC found that President Trump and Republicans are becoming more popular as November nears.
It’s not rocket science. America’s unemployment rate stands at just over 4 percent — the lowest level since 2000. Despite a recent dip, the stock market has consistently grown under Trump. The S&P 500 rose 18 percent in the president’s first 11 months, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a new record of 26,000 in January.
If recent history is any indication, the future is even brighter. In 2017, third-quarter growth was revised to a three-year high of 3.3 percent. The International Monetary Fund now projects the U.S. economy will grow at a rate of nearly 3 percent in 2018.
You can forgive them for being pessimistic. President Barack Obama left office with a lowly 1.9 percent growth rate, and the Obama years never saw 3 percent growth.
Even Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, a prominent Democrat donor, recently conceded “the economy is higher today than it otherwise would be” if Hillary Clinton was elected.
Tax cuts have a lot to do with it. More than 350 U.S. employers have publicly announced wage hikes, 401(k) increases and generous bonuses because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Trump’s tax reform has already benefited nearly four million working Americans, who now have more take-home pay to save and spend as they see fit.
Just wait until Tax Day rolls around and even more workers realize they have hundreds of dollars in extra income to inject back into the economy.
Democrats competing in Trump districts have an uphill battle ahead of them. In the upcoming special election in Western Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District — which Trump carried by nearly 20 points — Democrat candidate Conor Lamb is somehow campaigning against Republican tax cuts. He has even called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act a “betrayal” of middle-class households.
Is that how Democrats hope to win back the House? By opposing wage hikes and $1,000 bonuses?
It’s no wonder even the left-wing Priorities USA claims Democrat messaging “must change.” Unless Lamb and other Democrats heed that advice, they’ll be swept away by the Trump economy.
Guy Short (@shortguy1) is a former congressional chief of staff, six-time Republican National Convention delegate and Republican strategist with over 25 years of experience in politics.
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