Incumbent presidents are 11 out of 11 in getting re-elected with a booming economy. Don't expect the streak to break in 2020.
Most political experts think President Trump will struggle to get re-elected next year. Trump trails potential Democratic rivals in swing state polling. More voters disapprove of Trump’s job performance than approve of it. In fact, nearly half of polled respondents don’t just dislike Trump; they go so far as to want to see Trump impeached:
Despite those warnings signs, there is still one huge reason to expect Trump to be re-elected with ease.
Bill Clinton’s campaign adviser, James Carville, coined that famous phrase in 1992. Despite the U.S. winning an overwhelming victory in the Gulf War, then President George H.W. Bush was struggling in the polls because of an economic downturn at home. As Carville noted, voters will overlook a lot of other things in favor of their wallets. With Carville’s advice to hammer Bush on the economy, Clinton rolled to victory in ’92.
In 2015, the economy hit its slowest stretch since the Financial Crisis. This downturn helped sink Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid as voters, particularly in the Midwest, were willing to roll the dice on a different economic vision going forward.
And Trump has delivered in that regard. As this tweet notes, the economy is hitting all sorts of records:
The stock market is absolutely booming. The housing market has managed to shrug off fears of another bubble so far. And unemployment sits at its lowest levels in decades. Even with all that good news, the Fed has postured itself for more rate cuts. This should stimulate the economy even more ahead of election day.
LPL Financial’s Ryan Detrick posted this chart which makes this dynamic easy to understand:
Simply put, every incumbent president who enjoyed a good economy ahead of their re-election bid successfully won their second term. Since World War 1, incumbent presidents are 11 out of 11 by this standard.
By contrast, if there was a recession ahead of a president’s reelection campaign, they only earned a second term two out of seven times.
Thus, this is Trump’s election to lose as long as the economy keeps breaking records. The earliest a recession could hit would be early next year. But with the Fed set on more rate cuts, even that prospect looks increasingly unlikely. Surprises in the trade war or the efforts to impeach Trump could upend things, but for now, Trump is the clear favorite in next year’s presidential vote.
This article was edited by Gerelyn Terzo.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:41 PM UTC