Trouble still ahead for GOP -- even with a growing economy

President Donald Trump has come to the end of another difficult political week for himself and the Republican party....

Posted: Jul 29, 2018 11:11 AM
Updated: Jul 29, 2018 11:11 AM

President Donald Trump has come to the end of another difficult political week for himself and the Republican party.

The fallout from his Helsinki news conference continues to shake the administration while the release of one of Michael Cohen's secretly recorded audio tapes opened up new questions about the alleged payouts and cover-ups that happened during Trump's campaign. Additionally, new polls show a Democratic lead going into the 2018 midterm elections, and Trump's standing with key portions of the electorate, such as right-leaning college-educated women, is shaky.

But Friday morning there seemed to be a ray of hope for the administration. The President predictably turned attention to the best news that he and the Republicans can count on going into the midterm elections -- the economy. Trump was pleased to announce that the 4.1% second-quarter growth is the best since 2014. The economy is roaring.

With an economy that is this strong, Republicans are hoping to enjoy a bounce that undercuts the negative news. If Americans vote their pocketbooks, the GOP might just contain some of the damage going into the midterm at a minimum -- holding onto their majority even if it's narrower. But just like in 2016, when the strong economy did not benefit the party in power, this midterm might be different. It is not clear that the economy will be enough to save the Republicans from the damage that President Trump has caused them through his time in office.

How can this be? Historically, midterms have often gone poorly for the party of the president irrespective of economic conditions. In 1966, the economy was very strong but President Lyndon Johnson's Democrats saw the size of their majority shrink when they lost 47 seats in the House.

The economy also was growing in 1994, but that didn't save President Bill Clinton from seeing Democrats lose control of the House and Senate. In 2014, the last time the economy was doing as well as today, Republicans regained control of the Senate.

Now, the multiple investigations into the Trump administration are continuing and accelerating. They are starting to produce some pretty big revelations, including the suggestion that then-candidate Donald Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting where Donald Trump Jr. and Russian officials talked about getting possible dirt on rival Hillary Clinton. The President has denied that he knew about the meeting in advance.

It is likely that over the coming months, some of the benefits that a President and his party should naturally expect to enjoy from a booming economy might be undercut by the fears that this administration is corrupt and compromised. Voters might fear that the information we already have about wrongdoing is just the tip of the iceberg. And the images and sounds of Helsinki will not disappear.

While many Republicans still approve of President Trump, a majority of the country consistently does not.

The President has also turned this election into a referendum about American values. He has taken such polarizing stances on a series of key issues -- hard-line immigration policies, his mockery of #MeToo, and his intransigence on gun control -- that the energy driving his opponents will be stronger than the fact that economic times are good.

The irony of Trump is that his overwhelming and perpetual presence in the public square, with controversial and inflammatory rhetoric, might make it much harder for Republicans to keep voter attention on the economy. GOP candidates' connection to Trump has made it difficult for them to win over suburban moderate districts.

As he attacks identity politics, more than anyone Trump has raised the questions of what is our national identity and what does this nation stand for in 2018? Voters will have to go to the ballot box, which hopefully won't be hacked, and make a decision about what kind of country they believe in. Do the values that President Trump champions reflect the best of the nation's ideals in 2018 or does the nation need a powerful check, through a Democratic Congress, to move us in a very different direction?

Finally, there is the complex nature of our modern economy, an ongoing story that weakens the connection between strong economic times and predictable political outlines. The fact is that there are large pockets of this economy where Americans are hurting. Even where unemployment is low, many families are struggling to get by, holding on to multiple jobs and unable to keep up with the obligations to pay for their children's education or elderly parents' health care.

This was an insight that was important to Trump's campaign and it is a reality that Democrats can now use to their advantage -- particularly as the President's reckless trade war threatens many workers who are already at the brink.

A strong economy certainly should give Republicans some sense of confidence that they can perform better than expected in the coming midterms, but there is also more than enough reason to believe Democrats might still retake control of Congress.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
Out of AL00
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Tupelo
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Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 82°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 78°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 78°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
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Feels Like: 78°
Tropical Depression Claudette has now moved into Alabama and Georgia, leaving with some cloud cover but dry conditions. Most of us will stay dry through this Father's Day but some spotty showers will likely through the late afternoon.
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