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: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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