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It’s Pure Foolishness to Bet Against Trump Economy in 2020

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:18 PM
Ian Bezek
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:18 PM
  • President Trump has low approval ratings.
  • But he has a secret weapon: The strong economy.
  • Historically, presidents with a booming economy always win re-election.

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:

President Trump popular support
  A narrow majority of Americans now favor impeaching President Trump | Source: Fivethirtyeight 

Despite those warnings signs, there is still one huge reason to expect Trump to be re-elected with ease.

It’s The Economy, Stupid

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 Trump economy is breaking records
  Voters focused on the economy have many reasons to favor Trump | Source: Twitter 

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.

Don’t Bet Against Trump in a Booming Economy

LPL Financial’s Ryan Detrick posted this chart which makes this dynamic easy to understand:

Reelection likely based on history
  The odds strongly favor Trump’s re-election bid | Source: Twitter 

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.