It is long viewed that what the electoral populace thinks of the state of the economy is an important factor in how they vote and electoral outcomes. Prior to 2000 the state of the economy as measured by real per capita GDP growth explained presidential election outcomes except in cases where there was a war (!940) or there was a party split (1912). Personal scandals also played roles, with Ford’s defeat in 1976 at least partly due to his pardoning of Nixon. 2000 and 2016 had personal scandal issues involved in outcomes that went against the state of the economy (although 2016 a closer call on that), although in both of those elections we had the electoral college installing a president not favored by the national popular vote.
Midterm elections are not so closely tied to economic conditions as they have certain patterns based on the president and when he was elected, with midterms generally not favoring presidents. Nevertheless, economic conditions do play a role, with Reagan taking a big hit in 1982, even as he won big two years later when the economy turned around.
So now we have the economy doing well in terms of GDP growth, a 4,2% growth quarter followed by a 3.5% one, looking better than many forecast, despite some negative signals such as recent bad performance of the stock market. How will all this play out in the upcoming midterm elections?
To be honest, I do not know. But it strikes me that most of the electoral populace is not in touch with actual current economic reality. It goes on both sides. So, the side that I tend to favor tends to understate the returns people received from the GOP tax cut. Now I did not and do not support this tax cut for various reasons, but indeed it did hand out money to the vast majority of the population. But now by nearly 2 to 1, the US populace says they got nothing from it, and they oppose it as mostly giving money to the rich and adding to the budget deficit. All the latter is correct, of course, so it the populace are not complete fools. But in fact most of them did get some gain from this tax cut. But then, back in 2009-10 when Obama gave most of the population a tax cut, most of them did not notice it and were unaware they had gotten it. The hard fact is that people only notice big changes in their take home income, and neither Obama’s nor Trump’s tax breaks were big enough for most people for them to notice it.
Needless to say, while many did not notice the tax cut Trump gave them, those favoring Trump are not noticing that the vast majority of the US population has not seen increases in real per capita income. Trump’s tax cut for the majority of the population was too small to overcome the hard fact that real wages have remained largely stagnant. GDP growth has been high in the last two quarters, but is declining, and for a variety of reasons is likely to continue downwards. The recent volatility of the stock market shows these concerns, ranging from Trump’s trade wars, creeping inflationary trends, and rising interest rates, not to mention bad markets and slowdowns abroad.
“But it strikes me that most of the electoral populace is not in touch with actual current economic reality.”
Which is why they do not vote based on it.
People see correlation and think it is causation. Particularly untrue after the Reagan Revolution gave us the gingriches.
I have been relatively active in this political cycle in Michigan with information on the economy, infrastructure, and politics. What I have witnessed is:
– When I did provide various pieces of information on roads or how various township/county governments operate, the candidates were pretty much told to ignore it even when the graphs were blatantly obvious in what they were presenting. It is easy to pie chart road conditions over a 10 year period. It is easy to point out the impact of the tax cuts 8 years out when the taxes reappear for the middle income constituency.
– In 2016, the national Dem party largely ignored Michigan and Wisconsin. The county asked for help. What the end result was, people who would have voted for HRC if the Repub commentary was challenged voted for the Communist and Libertarian candidates in Michigan. in 2016, they were the ones who gained from dissatisfaction with HRC and Dems.
– The candidates are still on this road of playing nicey-nicey with their opponents who do not even talk back to them as they do noit take them seriously. They really think they will be able to walk across the aisle and seek bipartisanship the same as Obama tried to do with Repubs for 7 years. Obama was ready to sacrifice us just to achieve it with SS. The Dems have to break the backs of the Repubs in order to begin to talk to them.
– The Dem party does not want a knowledgeable constituency who can discuss their talking points. They love complacency.
– What they do want and will not ignore is your money and your time.
I know the tax cut gave me more money. As a tiny business, I will probably lower my business taxes by $1500.
That does not make me like the tax cuts.
They are immoral.
1. Stealing money from the children of the middle class to give to the very rich.
2. Driving the deficit to the moon.
Ignorance by the American public about fiscal policy is longstanding and especially bad on the spending side. I have not checked recently, but for decades something like a quarter of the population thought that foreign aid is the largest item in the federal budget, with non-military foreign aid never exceeding one percent of the budget. This is pretty extreme delusionalism.
I do not disagree much, but I think there is a huge problem you are overlooking. That is exactly how hard detailed policy is for politicians. Not because they are stupid(though many are), but exactly how many policies there are. Think of it, it is about everything in our lives.
Combine that with the problem of getting elected. Lot easier to chant “build that wall” than to engage in a detailed explanation of DACA and immigration policy. It was a lot easier for Sanders to say “break up the big banks” than to listen to CLinton’s detailed analysis of how to regulate the shadow banking system.
In both those examples, the more detailed explanations were far superior to the bumper sticker explanations. But that is not how elections work, and that is also due to the substance of Barkley’s post. Most people cannot keep up, just like most pols cannot keep up.
“Fifty-four forty or fight!” and “A chicken in every pot” are more effective than detailed analysis of the reasons for those slogans. And that is due to the limitations of the pols and the voters.
The problem a candidate runs up against with an incumbent is not establishing base or a reference point in which to challenge an incumbent. How does one differentiate themselves and tell the story of why am I better. For example, if the roads have deteriorated under the incumbency leadership, than a challenger has to point this out especially when their is funding available. If an incumbent who seits on the state House Insurance Committee as its chair and allows insurance companies to charge women more if single or are widowed; this point must be made and it is not. Otherwise, a candidate is little more than someone saying “elect me, I am better.” Answer the question of “how are you better?” Otherwise (again), people have no basis in which to decide who is better.
What I am seeing is the Dem party blocking these types of discernible points of reference. Literally they are telling our candidates to not use our information.
You know the Dem Party is blocking this information? State or national?
A lot of this depends on who is running and where. Nothing stops any far left candidate from running in an election, but there is plain truth in the fact that many Dem voters are not far left. And a lot of that is determined by where they live. I’d like to see more progressive candidates in these areas, but the simple fact is the voters do not. The biggest problem is in urban areas, where the demographics are not changing. Heartening is that some suburban areas are changing. That is not due to anything other than the population is changing.
Look to NE Virginia as the best example of this. Dem voters just didn’t change, they moved in. Seeing the same thing in Scottsdale, AZ, which is District 6. Outside chance of a Dem winning, but the changes are obvious. Candidate is Anita Malik who beat a much more centrist candidate in the primary.
She gets all credit, but I think the main reason is the influx into the district of younger, more educated people. This is shown clearly by the fact that Romney won by ten more points than Trump.
Problem is when you hit the rural areas of the country, those changes are no happening. Even worse, the migration of young people out of those areas are making them more conservative.
The plain truth is the Dems again are not challenging the incumbent Republicans and they are wasting their time arguing with Repubs about Pelosi. People do not want to hear about internal politics. They do want to hear about what Dems are going to do about fixing their everyday issues. I look to Michigan and the Dem candidates who are wasting their time in talking about bipartisanism, not voting for Pelosi, and not rebutting Republican lies. Yes, people are simple and they do want someone who will fight for them and not ignore them.
My Dem associates are worried about Gerrymandering causing Repub districts. Little do they know, they will have to Gerrymander districts to make them fair. They have no understanding what the issues are. When you attempt to explain it, the eyes go glassy.
The biggest problem is in rural areas where demographics are not changing.
Which districts are you talking about?
I feel sorry for you and Michigan progressives.