Does “It’s the Economy, Stupid” Still Hold True?


Ask an economist, and they’ll say the economy is good right now. And that usually spells a 2nd term for an incumbent president. But…

The approval ratings for Trump currently are under water, and by a lot. Yet, the economy is good. So, if this economy holds (which economists don’t seem to be too sure about) will he win re-election?

One answer might be lurking in how voters feel the economy is going for themselves. It’s one thing to hear economists talking about various statistics, but it’s quite another to look at your own financial situation and take stock. Are things better for you, or not?

Navigator Research just released another one of their superb research reports, which are geared to help progressives by using evidence to inform our talking points, and in this one, they focused on how voters are feelings about the Republican tax law. I think it helps to explain both why Trump’s approval isn’t good AND why having a good economy might not be what Trump needs to help him win re-election.

This survey was taken right around April 15, when most voters had filed their taxes, and asked if they supported or opposed the Republican tax law. It has never been more clear to what extent the majority of Americans think this law stinks.

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The key to understanding why lies in the second question they asked voters: Do you feel Trump’s policies put wealthy people first, or working and middle class families first?

62% say his policies help wealthy people first — the very message Democrats have been saying over and over for the last year. Now with folks looking at their tax bills, that message is hardening.

There’s not much we can do about the economy–and let’s face it, none of us want to see a downturn–but the silver lining is that by hammering the message that Trump and Republicans are only helping the wealthy, and ignoring the rest of us, that will resonate. Because the evidence that voters have in their own hands, i.e. their tax returns, tell that message in a very clear way.

* It’s the economy, stupid” was coined by James Carville, Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist in 1992, right before Clinton unseated President George H.W. Bush.

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13 replies

  1. I believe that the current hot economy is primarily gambling. It will crash, as it is not sustainable nor built on actions that underpin longer term wealth building. I also don’t mind if the economy does chill out. A hot economy fuels climate change, which creates a double bust. If half of the “hot” were transferred to efforts to deal with disparity and national needs, that would be a good economy. But this is just a coal chute to hell.

    • I’m most worried about the loans Wall Street is giving to distressed companies. They’re using the same type of financial “packages”that got the economy in trouble last time.

  2. I think it goes deeper than, ‘It’s the economy stupid’ these days. It’s important…but it sure as hell isn’t everything, especially with such a divisive and unqualified Potus at the helm. A year and a half is a long way from now. So much could happen. Dem candidates are saying the right things so far. Biden sounded the alarm yesterday in his roll out….the economy is NOT working for everyone. We can’t under-emphasize that point!!

  3. Well, since Trump seems to break everything he touches, it stands to reason that he’d break the “it’s the economy, stupid” rule, too.

  4. I’m wondering what you think of Pelosi and Schumer meeting with Trump on infrastructure. I’m thinking Trump might be worried his ‘best economy ever’ might start slowing down a bit towards the election. Thus, his wanting to work out a deal makes sense…..but, I trust nothing about the man….nothing. I’d say to Pelosi and Schumer: Beware!!!!!

    • I haven’t read up on the meeting yet. But at first blush, having Pelosi and Schumer work with Trump on a significant issue looks good, and takes a bit of wind out of the sails of the GOP saying that the only thing Democrats want to do is to take Trump down. That said, I do have to read what was actually discussed, and how Pelosi especially is framing the discussion afterwards.

      • I saw the presser w/Pelosi & Schumer afterward. I think they’re both playing him — they alluded to their agreement that this needs to be a “big” deal (Trumpian language) as if they knowingly fed his ego. I also think they are playing 3-dimensional chess to his tiddlywinks…they know that when the 3 weeks is up, he’ll propose a funding plan that’s totally unacceptable, and they’ll say so.

      • Pelosi especially has Trump’s number.

      • Yeah…me too. Haven’t heard anything from that meeting either. I think it’s probably Pelosi’s long game strategy. We know R’s will balk at spending money…tax increases etc…But, at least she can say she tried

  5. So glad Nick Knudsen (DemWrite Press, where I blog) alerted me to your site! Kindred spirits…

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