Loading...
BYH to people who bash teachers. You literally would not last one class period at my school. I get cussed at, chairs...

Economy weakens Democrats’ case for blue wave

john hood.jpg

John Hood

Loading…

Monday, May 28, 2018

In North Carolina and across the country, rank-and-file Democrats are counting on a big blue wave to wash over congressional, legislative, and local elections this year, as well as over gubernatorial contests in the majority of states that, unlike ours, elect their governors in non-presidential years.

Is this scenario possible? Sure. Its probability has declined in recent months, however, in large measure because people are feeling increasingly positive about the economy as a whole and their own prospects in particular.

On paper, it makes sense to imagine Democrats taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives and perhaps the U.S. Senate, breaking the Republican supermajorities in the North Carolina General Assembly, and winning lots of other races. Midterm elections usually go against the party occupying the White House. President Donald Trump has had net negative ratings since early 2017.

But right now, there is scant evidence of an impending Democratic tsunami. The polls aren’t consistent with it. Neither are the insights of Democratic insiders I know. They still expect to win races. They just don’t expect to blow out the Republicans, the outcome they had previously assumed (and the latter had previously feared).

The national polling on congressional races currently shows an average Democratic edge in House races of about three to four points. That’s better than a deficit, but not very impressive. At this point in the 2006 cycle, which culminated in Democratic takeovers of both houses of Congress and most state governments, the party typically led Republicans by double digits.

Here in North Carolina, generic-ballot tests range from roughly even for congressional and legislative races (in the latest survey commissioned by the Civitas Institute) to Democratic advantages of three and seven points, respectively (in the latest Survey USA poll). Averaging all the polls conducted so far this year shows only a modest Democratic edge in the Tar Heel State.

As for the White House effect, at this point in the 2006 cycle President George W. Bush had an average approval rating of 37 percent and an average disapproval rating of 59 percent. Trump’s current spread is approximately 44 percent approval, 53 percent disapproval. That’s a negative spread, obviously, but not nearly as heavy a weight as GOP candidates were bearing in 2006.

It’s not because Trump’s personal failings are going unnoticed. In a recent Ipsos Public Affairs survey of 1,080 registered voters, conducted for Reuters, fewer than 40 percent of respondents said they approved of Trump’s performance on government corruption, Russia, and “the way he treats people like me.” Yet his overall approval rating was 47 percent, vs. 51 percent disapproval.

Why? The difference consists of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who dislike Trump’s behavior and character but agree with his handling of the issues they deem most important. Indeed, his overall approval is about 60 percent on both the economy and fighting terrorism.

I know I’m repeating myself here, but our politics has become intensely polarized by party. Most Republicans who didn’t much like Trump in 2016 voted for him, anyway, because they were repulsed by Hillary Clinton and the left-wing philosophy she represented. Most Democrats did the reverse. It takes a great deal — not just antipathy to the nominee of one’s “home team” — to dislodge people from their normal voting patterns.

It’s much, much harder to do that when there is neither a bad economy nor an unpopular war to run against. At the moment, North Carolina’s unemployment rate of 4.4 percent is the lowest since the beginning of the 21st century. Incomes are rising. Reflecting a combination of strengthening economic conditions and one-time adjustments related to federal tax reform, North Carolina’s state budget is headed for another significant surplus, which will allow lawmakers to continue reducing the tax burden while also providing substantial pay raises to teachers and other public employees.

Democrats have a message of change. They have resources and, in some cases, talented candidates to deliver the message. But to an increasingly optimistic electorate, it may end up sounding off-key.

John Hood (@JohnHoodNC) is chairman of the John Locke Foundation and appears on “NC SPIN,” broadcast at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and 12:30 p.m. Sundays.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

May 23, 2019

From now on, the Trump-Russia affair — the investigation that dominated the first years of Donald Trump's presidency — will be divided into two parts: before and after the release of Robert Mueller's report. Before the special counsel's findings were made public last month, the…

Byron York.jpg

May 22, 2019

Presidential contenders are in a battle to out give one another. Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposes a whopping $50,000 per student college loan forgiveness. Sen. Bernie Sanders proposes free health care for all Americans plus illegal aliens. Most Democratic presidential candidates promise free stuff…

Walter Williams

May 21, 2019

Not that long ago, North Carolina Democrats had the "big tent" party — an eclectic group that shared common values but disagreed on many individual issues.

Moderate — sometimes even conservative — rural Democrats in the legislature worked alongside big city liberals. The moderates…

Colin Campbell

May 21, 2019

Later this week, North Carolina will renew its partnership with a little-known country that's been bringing out the best in our state's people for more than two decades.

North Carolina's National Guard has been helping the country's defense forces throughout this time. Librarians from Wilmington…

David Jarmul

May 20, 2019

North Carolina appropriates less taxpayer money to state colleges and universities in real terms than it did before the onset of the Great Recession. Tuition has risen markedly and now accounts for a larger share of total revenue. But our state remains one of the most generous in the country when…

john hood.jpg

May 20, 2019

How many people have the ability to manipulate the stock market? One, and this isn’t a trick question. We’re watching how President Trump’s statements about slapping tariffs on China one day, or the great headway he’s making on a China trade deal the next day can tank the…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

May 19, 2019

The Washington Post

The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has said she does not think anyone would argue that the perpetrator of the Christchurch massacre should have been able to livestream mass murder. Maybe that question elicits something close to unanimity — but in trying to…

May 19, 2019

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, adding his voice to calls to "break up" the social media giant, calls it a "powerful monopoly, eclipsing all of its rivals and erasing competition." In recent years, we've seen similar claims, and heard demands for similar remedies, aimed at Google, Amazon, and…

Knapp

May 19, 2019

With a competent president in the White House, the escalating confrontation with Iran would not rise to the level of crisis. With President Trump calling the shots, we should be afraid. Very afraid.

A rational president, of course, would not have abandoned the landmark deal that halted Iran's…

Eugene Robinson

May 18, 2019

I’ve been watching the emerging election for North Carolina’s Senate seat and wonder if we are seeing symptoms of a larger trend. Our traditional tribalism — Republicans and Democrats — has morphed into contentious sub-tribes within each party. Instead of a sure re-…

Tom Campbell.jpg
249 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 25
        Next Page»   Last Page»