Running Against the U.S. Economy

Democrats think they are facing Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Democrats are really running against a booming economy that isn’t slowing.

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President Donald J. Trump participates in a roundtable on the economy and tax reform Monday, April 15, 2019, at Nuss Truck & Equipment in Burnsville, Minn. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

It’s always crowed early in the race. But not everyone has the staying power for the kind of long, drawn out and ruinously expensive political melee about to take place on the left.

Into the field of Democratic contenders for the 2020 Democratic Party primary nomination, Joe Biden has stumbled. He will soon find that his party has moved on without him in the years since he last ran for President.

Hungry for generational change, the new progressive guard of the Democratic party will undoubtably make their voices heard in the months to come as the field narrows. Elder Democratic centrists will argue electability over idealism. Both sides will shout the other down.

It will be interesting to see what role social media will play in the upcoming election year. How will both sides react now that it is easier, not to mention cheaper, to shout down an opponent than ever before? What role will large social media followings play?

The over-amplification of certain far-left positions on social media may lead unwary Democrats to over-estimate the popularity of those progressive opinions on a variety of social issues.

Social media is just a technologically fancy survey machine with a better response rate. Surveys are valuable, sure. But surveys are notoriously unreliable, too. Younger people are over-represented as a demographic group on social media; yet they are under-represented in the ballot box.

Democrats might be wise to remember this.

In addition, the people most likely to respond in a survey about political matters will be people with the strongest opinions on the subject, positive or negative. That group will not be representative of the whole.

People sampled in a survey, people sampled on social media; both methods suffer from the same self-selection process that makes all survey results unreliable when applied to more generalized groups.

A survey is never a survey of everyone, or even every voter: A survey is a survey of people willing to be surveyed.

Democrats simply cannot afford to get sidetracked by the vagaries of the opinions of people on social media. Democrats can’t afford to ignore the moderate majority if they expect to see Trump out of office in 2020.

Because Democrats have a much bigger problem than misreading their base and ignoring moderates in their party. Democrats have a bigger problem than an overly-crowded field of contenders for the Democratic primary nomination. Democrats have a bigger problem than the failure of the Mueller report.

Democrats even have a bigger problem than Donald Trump.

“It’s the economy, stupid.” — James Carville 1992

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President Donald J. Trump listens as Chairman Ajit Pai of the Federal Communications Commission delivers remarks on U.S. 5G deployment technology Friday, April 12, 2019, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

While Democrats are testing candidates in the field and arranging chess pieces against Donald Trump on a variety of fronts, the real enemy to electing Democrats in 2020 remains the strength of the U.S. economy.

Good news for the economy is bad news for Democrats hoping to persuade independent and undecided voters to change directions next fall. Hoping the economy will enter a downturn isn’t exactly a winning strategy either.

Nor is that scenario looking any more likely.

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President Donald J. Trump is joined on stage by students and union officials at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center, as he signs one of two Executive Orders to streamline Federal processes surrounding energy and infrastructure development Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Crosby, Texas. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Democrats who think It’s Not the Economy, Stupid! seem to think that Donald Trump is a truly unique kind of evil that will somehow overcome the average undecided or independent voter’s own self-interest. Not so.

First, nothing overcomes people’s own self-interest. Second, other Republican Presidents have been just as hated by the left.

George W. Bush was regularly called a war criminal, the worst President in history, and worse. Democrats tried to impeach him. When that didn’t work, they tried to impeach him again.

Now, Bush is the anti-Trump. Have Democrats completely changed their minds about George W. Bush?

No, Democrats just don’t have to run against George Bush.

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President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at the Army Tank Plant Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Ronald Regan wasn’t all that popular with his political opponents either. Regan terrified liberals in 1980 every bit as much as Trump terrifies them today. Regan was still re-elected in a landslide two years after Democrats made significant gains in the House of Representatives.

The Regan presidency has some remarkable similarities to the current Trump administration, but as Frank Rich lamented, no one seems to notice. Or want to notice.

Regan’s campaign slogan was “Let’s Make America Great Again”.

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President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention Monday, January 14, 2019, at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

“Both have marketed the same brand of outrage to the same angry segments of the electorate, faced the same jeering press, attracted some of the same battlefront allies (Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Phyllis Schlafly), offended the same elites (including two generations of Bushes), outmaneuvered similar political adversaries, and espoused the same conservative populism built broadly on the pillars of jingoistic nationalism, nostalgia, contempt for Washington, and racial resentment …”

“Though Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan (“Let’s Make America Great Again”) is one word longer than Trump’s, that word reflects a contrast in their personalities — the avuncular versus the autocratic — but not in message. Reagan’s apocalyptic theme, “The Empire is in decline,” is interchangeable with Trump’s, even if the Gipper delivered it with a smile.” — Frank Rich

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President Donald J. Trump is joined by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the USMCA signing ceremony Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

As Democrats continue to bicker over minor divisions and identity-politic purity, Donald Trump will continue to do everything in his power to make sure his most likely campaign strategy proves a successful one.

When the economy wins, Donald Trump wins.

And Donald Trump wants to win.

Do Democrats?

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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