Sunday, August 2, 2020

GDP and the Sinking Trump Ship

Everybody saw the historically dreadful figures for second quarter GDP growth. Leaving aside everything else such a performance according to conventional political science would predict an enormous loss for the incumbent president. How enormous? Seth Masket at Mischiefs of Faction has the numbers:

"If I plug [-9.5 percent growth] into regression equations...assume the President will have a 40 percent Gallup approval rating on Labor Day, give him credit for being an incumbent and for the absence of a war, I get a predicted two-party vote share of 31 percent. If I use a similar regression equation that accounts for GDP growth between the 4th quarter of the previous year and the 2nd quarter of the election year, I get a predicted two-party vote share of 39 percent. Those models have R-squareds of .69 and .65, respectively.

I am highly skeptical of these forecasts. The better of these forecasts for Trump would be on par with the vote shares received by Barry Goldwater and George McGovern in 1968 and 1972, respectively. That's historic landslide territory, the sort of thing we haven't seen in a long time."

You can see Masket is skeptical of his own forecasts; so am I. But the point remains that this GDP result is really, really bad for Trump by the general logic of Presidential elections.

But wait....don't people still approve of his handling of the economy? Not like they used to. It is no longer a "get out of jail free" card for our Dear Leader. Harry Enten:

When you look at all the polls, you come to a very similar finding. Trump's net approval rating on the economy (approval minus disapproval) has dropped from +16 points in January to just +1 point in July.

His declining economic approval rating is no doubt partially because he has become less popular overall. His net approval rating overall has declined about 5 points since January. Still, that's only about a third of the decline in his economic approval rating.

It does seem that the economic downturn the country has suffered since February is impacting Trump's economic approval disproportionally.

Furthermore, a look at the data reveals that Trump is no longer the clear winner when it comes to who voters trust on the economy.

Biden actually does 2 points better than Trump when matched up on the economy in an average of the ABC News/Washington Post, Fox News and Quinnipiac polls. That's best described as "too close to call," but that itself is quite noteworthy.

Trump led on the economy in all three polls when the question was last asked by each pollster. He held as much as a double-digit advantage over Biden in the ABC News/Washington Post in March. Trump even had a 12-point lead on the economy as late as May in CNN polling."…/trump-economic-approval-ra…/index.html

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