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It's NOT the economy, stupid!

If you've ever paid even the smallest bit of attention, you know the phrase, "It's the economy, stupid."...

Posted: Sep 18, 2018 9:18 AM
Updated: Sep 18, 2018 9:18 AM

If you've ever paid even the smallest bit of attention, you know the phrase, "It's the economy, stupid."

That line entered our political lexicon during the 1992 presidential campaign, when James Carville, a strategist for the presidential bid of then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, scrawled it on a whiteboard in Clinton's campaign headquarters.

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The message was simple -- and right: Voters care first, second and third about the economy, as understood by how they were feeling about their own financial well-being. Everything else was just noise.

And for the next three decades or so, that mantra has ruled electoral politics. How the economy is doing -- or is perceived to be doing -- will tell you everything you need to know about a candidate or a party's chances of winning.

Which brings us to the current moment -- and the current President: Donald Trump.

All economic indicators suggest things are roaring in the country. The unemployment rate in August was 3.9%. The Gross Domestic Product increased 4.2% in the second quarter of 2018. And yet Trump's job approval has dipped of late; in a new CNN-SSRS poll released earlier this month, just 36% approved of how Trump was handling the gig. (Trump's overall job approval was just over 40% in the Real Clear Politics average of polls.)

Why the disconnect? A new piece of data from Gallup provides the answer -- or at least an answer. Just 12% of people say that any aspect of the economy is the most important issue facing the country. That's the lowest score ever recorded for the economy on that question, which Gallup has been asking since 1991 in its current form.

What's replaced the economy as the most important issue? According to Gallup, it's "dissatisfaction with government/poor leadership." In the latest Gallup survey, 29% cited unhappiness with the government and its leaders as the country's most pressing problem.

That data comes amid increasingly public concerns from smart Republican strategists that the party isn't getting the credit on the economy it needs to head off a potentially disastrous result at the ballot box in 50 days.

"People think the economy is doing well, but that's not what they're voting on -- they're voting on the chaos of the guy in the White House," GOP pollster Glen Bolger told The New York Times over the weekend.

It doesn't take a political genius to see the writing on the wall here for Republicans. The 2018 election is shaping up as a straight referendum on a deeply unpopular President. Trump's inability -- and unwillingness -- to recede into the background or tone things down for the good of the party ensures that he will continue to overshadow everything else in voters' minds. And that includes the demonstrable successes of the economy.

The Point: The Gallup numbers are just another data point suggesting that Republicans are in for a very rough election, seven weeks and a day from today. Even more worrisome? Trump seems either oblivious to or ignorant of that very fact.

Read Monday's full edition of The Point newsletter, and sign up to get future editions delivered to your inbox.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 74328

Reported Deaths: 3041
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Marion15860725
Lake7570275
Elkhart484384
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St. Joseph350081
Hamilton2763104
Vanderburgh196313
Hendricks1887108
Cass17959
Johnson1757118
Porter131639
Clark123347
Tippecanoe121111
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Shelby55327
Grant52630
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Morgan47634
Clinton4343
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Harrison33823
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Randolph1224
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Newton11810
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Reported Deaths: 3669
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Franklin18317524
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Hamilton9643255
Lucas5348323
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Butler292963
Marion292545
Mahoning2554255
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Warren178939
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Wood104358
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Medina92335
Miami83938
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Portage75861
Allen74044
Greene69012
Belmont62126
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Richland60412
Erie57527
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Geauga55644
Wayne53958
Ross4844
Huron3965
Darke39529
Ottawa38626
Hancock3783
Sandusky37716
Madison37410
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Holmes3286
Lawrence2830
Auglaize2546
Union2511
Muskingum2361
Jefferson2292
Scioto2261
Seneca2143
Knox2057
Putnam20517
Preble2032
Washington20322
Shelby1944
Coshocton1936
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Crawford1745
Morrow1702
Hardin16512
Clinton1646
Highland1581
Logan1552
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Defiance1444
Williams1353
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