The strong economy is keeping Donald Trump afloat. What happens if it tanks?

"Run for cover," ...

Posted: Dec 18, 2018 8:11 PM
Updated: Dec 18, 2018 8:11 PM

"Run for cover," warned former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan on Tuesday about the long-term fate of the stock market.

The chance of a recession in 2019 is higher than it's been at any point since Donald Trump became President, according to CNBC's Fed Survey.

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The Dow Jones stock market has had its worst December since, wait for it, the Great Depression. (Stocks rallied several hundred points on Tuesday morning.)

The warning signs are ominous. The roaring economy appears to be flagging or, at least showing signs that the upward momentum of the past year-plus is receding considerably.

All of which poses a very interesting political problem for Trump. He has built his entire presidency on the idea that his economic policies, learned and honed in the private sector, are succeeding beyond anyone's greatest expectations.

Asked last week by Fox News' Harris Faulkner whether he felt pressure to keep the strong economy going, Trump responded: "Well, I don't think there is any pressure. Everyone's doing so well. I mean there's not a lot of pressure."

Which, um, judging by the analysis of Greenspan (and others) and the recent performance of the stock market, may well be a bit of whistling past the political graveyard for Trump.

After all, there's no debate that even as he is broadly unpopular in the country, Trump's ratings on the economy remain quite positive -- and have kept his overall ratings from totally collapsing.

In a CNN-SSRS poll conducted earlier this month, just 39% approved of the job Trump was doing as President while 52% disapproved. That's a striking contrast to Trump's ratings on how he has handled the economy in that same poll; 49% approve, 41% disapprove.

The economy is the only issue -- of six CNN asked about -- where more people approve of how Trump is doing than disapprove. And remember, his positive ratings on the economy come in a poll where his overall disapproval number is 13 points higher than his approval number.

Traditional political thinking is that presidents get too much credit when the economy is good and too much blame when it's bad. (The thinking behind that conventional wisdom is that presidents have only limited ability to affect the economy -- for good or for ill -- no matter what policies they put in place.)

Trump has, to date, bucked that conventional wisdom -- to his detriment. Despite the relative strength of the economy, Trump's overall job approval ratings have been mired in the low 40s since almost his first day in office. It as though people who don't like Trump dislike him so much that they are entirely unaffected or swayed by the strong economy. If the economy turns or slows, there's a 100% chance these people will turn even harder from Trump heading into his reelection race.

The more important question is how Trump's political base would respond to a worsening economy. While much has been made of Trump's supposed high floor in polling due to the loyalty of his supporters -- and how little outside events seem to affect their view of the President -- it remains to be seen whether a significant slowdown in the economy (or even a recession) might lower that floor, cutting into even the ranks of his most die-hard backers.

Such a development would be a death knell for Trump's prospects in 2020. And to be clear, we're not there yet. Not even close.

But for Trump to have a real chance of winning a second term -- given how deeply personally unpopular he is -- he badly needs the economy (or at least voters' perception of the economy) to be strong. Which seems like less of a sure thing than it did a few months ago.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
Hinds31977631
Jackson24508383
Rankin22015390
Lee15596235
Madison14597280
Jones13867243
Forrest13461252
Lauderdale11998317
Lowndes11065188
Lamar10522136
Pearl River9547237
Lafayette8557140
Hancock7740127
Washington7443160
Oktibbeha7147133
Monroe6787178
Warren6706176
Pontotoc6677104
Neshoba6642206
Panola6542131
Marshall6476135
Bolivar6323150
Union605794
Pike5824152
Alcorn5676102
Lincoln5439135
George497479
Scott473098
Tippah470381
Prentiss469182
Leflore4663144
Itawamba4640105
Adams4592119
Tate4592111
Copiah448792
Simpson4448116
Yazoo444887
Wayne440072
Covington429094
Sunflower4240105
Marion4232108
Coahoma4168107
Leake408688
Newton381779
Grenada3711108
Stone360664
Tishomingo360092
Attala331789
Jasper330165
Winston314691
Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
Walthall218764
Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
Webster203046
Noxubee186840
Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132837
Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
Calhoun22236488
Morgan20958378
Etowah19838500
Marshall18381304
Houston17394412
St. Clair16078339
Cullman15468293
Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
Lauderdale14323295
Talladega13851283
DeKalb12664261
Walker11221370
Blount10207176
Autauga10048148
Jackson9877184
Coffee9211191
Dale8904185
Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
Pickens316584
Henry312866
Hale311688
Cherokee302960
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224847
Conecuh186353
Coosa180340
Lowndes175464
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138940
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
Out of AL00
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Tupelo
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Hi: 71° Lo: 47°
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Columbus
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Oxford
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High pressure leaves our area overnight and allows room for some low pressure and a cold front to move into our area on Wednesday. This will bring some good chances for some rain and isolated thunderstorms into our area during later portions of our Wednesday.
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