Charlotte, NC, July 31, 2018—One man has not forgotten the effective campaign slogan of former President Bill Clinton in his campaign in 1992 against former President George H.W. Bush: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
That man is current President Donald J. Trump. In his campaign for Republicans in the mid-term elections this Fall, President Donald Trump is touting the economy as a central achievement, according to The Charlotte Observer (July 28, 2018). The economy is doing great, too, including in North Carolina.
Gross domestic product grew in the United States at a pace of 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018, according to the Commerce Department, as quoted in The Charlotte Observer (July 28, 2018). This growth rate places the United States on track for its best year in over ten years, according to Ben Casselman, as he reported in The Charlotte Observer.
In North Carolina, according to Mark Vitner, senior economist for Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, the unemployment rate has dropped down to near 4 percent. That figure is down from the double digits a few years back, during the “Great Recession,” he claimed in The Charlotte Observer (July 18, 2018). Now, there are nearly as many jobs open and available in North Carolina as there are unemployed people. That low unemployment figure tells of a rosy picture in the economy in North Carolina, I would argue.
The economy is doing just great, and although I am a Democrat, I think President Trump deserves credit on this issue. I cannot fall in line in agreement with President Trump’s policies on trade and taxes, although I recognize, as economic experts point out in the July 28 article in The Charlotte Observer, low taxes serve as a stimulus. Although I see the failings of an internationalist neo-liberalism—this economic globalism further enriches the wealthy, while leaving large segments of the working-class behind—still, I cannot line up behind simple economic nationalism, either, or “America First.” Substitute your country’s name in that slogan, and you have the international vision behind that economic world order. This nationalism seems misplaced, misguided, over-simplified, and self-serving. It is the epitome of the “ugly American” in the world, when applied to the United States. It is one thing to have one of the strongest economies in the world, and I do not doubt the truth behind President Trump’s words on this one, but it is quite another thing to dismiss out-of-hand the fates and fortunes of the rest of the world, including major trading partners. We should be able to strive for a better vision of the world, one better than simple economic nationalism and self-indulgence at others’ expense.
Nonetheless, the economy in the United States, and North Carolina, is responding like an engine when someone hit the gas pedal. Acceleration is the word. This will only help the Republicans in the mid-terms.
What, then, of the so-called blue wave? This wave refers to the Democratic edge in the polls and by political prognosticators, who agree that Democrats are on-a-roll, according to a report in The Atlantic (web edition articles, July 27, 2018), for example, or again, The Charlotte Observer (July 25, 2018).
Let us look at one congressional district, the 9th, in and around Charlotte, NC. This one is considered generally Republican, yet a poll by the Civitas Institute (based in Raleigh, NC) has the Democrat, Dan McCready, ahead of his conservative opponent, Mark Harris, by 7 points, according to The Charlotte Observer (July 12, 2018). The margin of error in the poll is 4.6 percent. That indicates a close race, with the Democrat holding the edge.
Another recent poll by the same group, however, was just proved wrong in the Republican primary, in that district. There, a Civitas poll had the Republican incumbent, Robert Pittenger, ahead by 32 points, during this year’s Republican primary. In the election, held this past May, Mark Harris beat Pittenger by 828 votes, according to The Charlotte Observer (July 12, 2018). The more conservative candidate won, in defiance of the poll numbers.
Taking into account this poll, the conservative nature of the district, and this year’s Republican primary election outcome, I would argue that this district remains a toss-up. The district counts as one of those Republican districts that could fall to Democrats in Congress, but we see that it is a toss-up, I would argue.
Democrats do have momentum going into this Fall, I think. If the economy remains a top issue, like it was for President Clinton in 1992, however, then do not count out President Trump and the Republican party.
Only time will tell.