(June 18) It’s not only the economy, stupid. Especially when the economy may already be improving.

Republicans this year seem to be over-enamored of Democratic strategist James Carville’s wisdom from the 1992 presidential race, when he famously insisted that then-candidate Bill Clinton’s campaign forget left-wing wish lists and instead focus on the relatively weak economy under then-President George H.W. Bush.

Yes, when the economy under your incumbent opponent is bad, it’s usually true that you can defeat that incumbent by blaming him for economic woes. The reality, though, is that by historical standards, today’s economy is pretty good. If perception catches up to that reality before Election Day in November, and if Republicans haven’t teed up noneconomic topics as well, then the bulk of the “swing voters” who are sick of Republican former President Donald Trump’s drama might just decide to embrace Democrats up and down the ballot.

The unemployment rate right now is just 4%. Prices in the past 12 months rose just 3.3%, and that number is trending downward. Last month’s prices didn’t rise at all. For historical comparison, from 1970 to 2018, there was only one year (1999) when unemployment was at 4% or less while inflation was under 3.5% at the same time. And for the first 30 of those years, the federal funds interest rate was above (worse than) today’s 5.33% all but eight times.

Meanwhile, the overall economy grew at a robust 6.3% in 2023.

Except for the interest rates, which aren’t terrible but aren’t ideal either, those numbers all show a healthy economy.

Of course, right now, the public perception is different. The public continues to reel from the Bidenomics-induced inflation of 2021 through early 2023. The dramatic two-year hike in prices for food and housing seems shocking. That’s why Republicans are stressing the economy now: Quite justifiably, people remain angry at Bidenflation…. [Read the full column right here.]

 

 

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