Over the summer, we saw reports of early warning signs for an economic slowdown in the US. The warning lights aren’t just flashing for the US: Germany is on the brink of a recession; Brexit looms over the British economy; and even China’s economic growth is starting to slow. So, is the US next?
Currently, the US economy continues to remain strong with low unemployment and consumer confidence still high. It’s worth noting that for all the consternation and partisan battles over immigration and healthcare, it’s the economy that matters to voters between the coasts, and voters could sour on President Trump’s handling of the economy.
Historically, if the economy is not in recession, the incumbent party wins the presidency, with one exception (President Calvin Coolidge in 1924). If this trend continues, it’s good news for President Trump. But should a recession hit the US, the president’s re-election campaign is ready to divert the blame elsewhere.
The President is a master messenger, repeating the same lines over and over again until his supporters regurgitate his words verbatim. Not to mention that the president’s words and tweets get wall-to-wall coverage on every major news outlet. It becomes nearly impossible for his opponents – including the presidential candidates – to get their own message out to the voters…even if the president is caught in a lie.
When it comes to the economy, it’s about whose economic message the voters believe. Trump has outlined a growing list of scapegoats to point to if the US economy does go into a recession before election day:
So, what do the Democrats say? They will probably argue that Trump inherited a strong economy from President Obama and is running it into the ground with his tax cuts, trade wars, and his tweets. To win the economic argument Democrats will likely point to three key actions the president has taken:
Trump’s re-election could boil down to the economy. For all the noise over Trump’s conduct and questions of electability, economic security is what determines voter outcomes. If the jobs market remains robust and growth is solid, Democrats will struggle to make a strong case for why they are a better choice. In 1980, President Ronald Reagan asked, “are you better off now than you were four years ago?” and he defeated President Jimmy Carter (who incidentally endured a recession in the last two years of his presidency). Any economic slowdown will be painful; costing people their jobs and savings. For Trump, the stakes are higher, it could cost him his presidency.
Measurement and evaluation