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Republicans Struggle in Polls Despite Booming Economy; Here’s Why

             9/15/2018

Republican Leaders

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Despite a booming economy, Republican prospects for maintaining control of the house continue to lag in most major polls. While midterm elections are always challenging for the President’s party, Trump’s low approval rating, driven by media hysterics and hyperbolic rhetoric from Democratic leaders, only increases Republican difficulties this year. In this environment, the Democrats goal of flipping 23 House seats to gain control of the chamber seems well within reach. Indeed, the political forecasting site fivethirtyeight.com gives Democrats an 83 percent chance of regaining control of the house.

The spectacle that has been created around the Trump Presidency has sucked the air out of the political space and overshadows positive news on the economy. According to Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute, “Trump’s personality and the circus in Washington . . . seems to daily drown out everything else.” Many Americans don’t have any idea what the policies of the administration are, but they are constantly being whipped up into hysterics over manufactured controversies without substance. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are too busy running defense for the President to advance a principled argument for liberty to counter increasingly authoritarian voices on the Left.

The disconnect between the President’s approval the economic performance is startling. Unemployment at the lowest rate in 50 years, 4 percent GDP growth, and consumer confidence rose to an 18-year high in July. However, this has not resulted in significant growth in the President’s approval which remains around 42 percent. From Bloomberg, “While consumer sentiment on the economy is currently higher than the average of any president since the poll started in the 1980’s, [Trump’s] approval rating as measured by a separate Washington Post/ABC News survey is the lowest of the lot.”

Democratic hyperbole to underplay the significance of economic growth or to claim credit for it also hinders Republican prospects among low-information voters. While Obama was grilled by right-wing pundits for his remarks last week claiming credit for the Trump economy, individuals in left-wing echo chambers are likely to take the former president at his word. Additionally, those who are unable to see past the media’s baseless claims of bigotry on behalf of the president are unlikely to value the nation’s economic gains, even if they are seeing the results of those gains in their own lives.

Democratic prospects are increased in some districts by “outsider” candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who are taking advantage of broad-based anti-establishment sentiment, especially among younger voters. Ironically, it was this same Anti-establishment sentiment, on the right, that helped propel Donald Trump to the oval office. While these “outsider” candidates may energize the Democratic base, it is possible that they will also energize Republican voters to turn out in opposition.

Media maleficence has created a crisis mentality within much of the electorate, undercutting positive news of economic growth. Individuals inclined to believe Joe Scarborough when he said this week that Trump is worse for the country than any foreign enemy, are unlikely to care about a booming economy. Despite the long odds against Republican candidates in this year’s midterm elections, any number of factors could tip the odds in their favor before November. Indeed, with the insanely fast news cycle of the Trump presidency, the political landscape could easily become unrecognizable over the next two months, opening the way for Republican’s to maintain control of the house.

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