Mr. Trump enjoys the best first-term economy in three decades with the gross domestic product growing at a 3.5 percent annual rate last quarter, and Mr. Trump wants Republicans rewarded for it at the ballot box.
Analysts agree, however, that good times breed complacency among midterm voters and that grievance, such as the burning hatred harbored by Mr. Trump’s opponents on the left, is a stronger motivator for turnout at the polls.
“We have made so much progress. We don’t want to give up that progress. We can’t allow that to happen,” Mr. Trumpsaid at a rally Saturday in Murphysboro, Illinois. “Under Republican leadership, America is booming like never before because we are finally putting America first.” …
At every stop, Mr. Trump touts the historically low unemployment rate, rising wages and resurgence of manufacturing, mining and steel industries.
“More Americans are working today than at any point in the history of our country. How good is that as a sound bite?” Mr. Trump said in a speech to the Future Farmers of America convention in Indianapolis.
The strong economy provides a foundation in Mr. Trump’s stump speech for the rest of his pitch to keep Republicans in control of Congress. It’s the first item mentioned in a litany of “wins” that he promises to keep delivering if Republicans turn out to vote Nov. 6.
Last week, he dropped references in his stump speech to the stock market and soaring 401(k) balances after a massive sell-off that erased all of this year’s gains in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The government also reported that the federal deficit is quickly soaring again and that the tax cuts and spending increases that are likely fueling the economy are set to create trillion-dollar deficits by the end of this decade.
But for now at least, Mr. Trump has the economy on his side.
Real gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 3.5 percent in the last quarter, which ran from July through September, the government reported Friday.
The last time a president had such a hot economy heading into congressional elections in his first term was in 1978, when President Carter was sitting on a 4.1 percent growth rate.
The country was in a recession in 1982, during President Reagan’s first midterm elections, and was growing at a rate of less than 1 percent for President George H.W. Bush. President Clinton managed a 2.4 percent rate, President George W. Bush oversaw a weaker 1.8 percent rate and President Obama had a solid 3 percent.
Mr. Trump took office with the growth rate at 1.8 percent in his first quarter, but the economy quickly heated up. He has since posted quarterly growth numbers of 3 percent, 2.8 percent, 2.3 percent, 2.2 percent, 4.2 percent and now 3.5 percent.
“These results are no accident. This is what happens when we pass policies to help American consumers, workers and businesses generate economic growth and opportunity,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican. …
Strong GDP growth hasn’t been a magic elixir for presidents in midterm elections.
The economy grew at 4.9 percent rate just ahead of the 2014 elections, yet Mr. Obama’s party lost the Senate and suffered even deeper losses in the Republican-led House. Those were his second midterm contests.
Meanwhile, Mr. Clinton’s 2.4 percent growth rate didn’t prevent a Republican wave in 1994.
Stephen Moore, senior economic contributor at the conservative group FreedomWorks and former economic adviser to the Trump presidential campaign, said the third-quarter report shows that consumers “went on a spending spree.”
“Unlike the previous report that was driven by business spending, this report was really driven by consumer spending,” Mr. Moore said in an interview. “That might be the best indication of how well workers are doing. They feel good about things. I think it’s the best indication yet of how widespread this recovery is.”
He said economic growth is averaging double what it was under the Obama administration.
“That’s a huge increase — more than doubling the growth rate in less than two years,” he said. “The liberal economists who gave us ‘Obamanomics’ were completely wrong about potential growth in the economy.”
More Trump bloviation? Maybe not. First, consider this CNBC chart (click on the link to look at the original):
Look particularly at the business confidence and consumer confidence numbers.
Now, consider some history. Over the last 60 years, the 1957–58, 1960–61, 1969–70, 1973–75, 1980 and 1990–91 recessions, plus the Great Recession, occurred with Democrats in control of Congress. (The first accomplishment of the 1987 Congress was the 1987 stock market crash, and Democrats’ taking control of Congress after the 2006 elections was followed less than a year later by the Great Recession.) Only the 1981–82 and 2001 recessions occurred with Republicans in control of at least one house of Congress. (Control was split in the 1982 recession.)
Notice that stock market ups and downs have been more or less following Trump’s perceived political fortunes? The big stock market jump started the day after his election in 2016, because investors evidently believed that the Obama administration’s anti-business policies were about to change. Of course, change can be positive or negative. Elections have consequences, not all of them political.
None of what you read should suggest that anyone should panic about his or her investments based on the stock market over a short period of time. The way one makes money in the market is by being a long-term investor. It is just that in the short term, depending on the Nov. 6 election results it may be a bumpy ride.