Strong jobs report released ahead of midterms

CNN's Christine Romans takes a look at the jobs report the Labor Department released four days before the midterm elections.

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 10:14 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 10:24 PM

For months now, the US economy has been roaring. The latest evidence? The October jobs report -- 250,000 jobs added, 3.7% unemployment rate and wage growth at 3.1%.

Traditionally, a booming economy accrues to the benefit of the president -- putting him and his party in prime position for electoral gains, especially this close to an election.

But President Donald Trump is anything but traditional. And even as the economy has soared, his job approval numbers have stayed stagnant -- and low. In the latest Gallup weekly tracking poll, just 40% of Americans approved of the job he was doing while 54% disapproved. An NPR/PBS/Marist poll released earlier this week showed similar numbers, with Trump's job approval at 41%.

And, as Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones noted in a recent analysis on the midterms: "55% of Americans rate current economic conditions as excellent or good and 12% as poor, for a net rating of +43. That is far better than the average net rating of +10 since 1994 and better than in all recent midterms except 1998." (WaPo's Philip Bump has a terrific analysis of this data -- and Trump -- here.)

Yet, with just four days left before the 2018 midterms, conventional wisdom is that Republicans will lose the House majority they've held since 2010 and will narrowly hold onto their Senate majority, despite defending just nine seats to Democrats' 26. The GOP is also poised to suffer significant losses at the gubernatorial level.

So, what gives? Why isn't Trump's party in better shape given the stellar state of the economy?

The answer to both of those questions is simple: Trump. Or, more specifically, that outside of his hardcore base, people just don't like him.

Again, Gallup's Jones:

"The President's current job approval rating of 41% from the October 15-28 poll is well below the 52% average in midterm elections since 1974 and is one of the lowest for a president prior to a midterm election over that time. Trump's approval rating in the most recent week of Gallup tracking is similar, at 40%."

Unlike past presidents, Trump is simply not getting the credit for what is broadly acknowledged as a very strong economy. And the reason is almost certainly because people do not like him or approve of him personally.

Here's a data point to back that claim up. Usually a president's personal favorable ratings are significantly higher than his job approval ratings. The reason is simple: People may dislike a president's policies but they tend to admire or at least respect him as a person, or husband and father. So they are far more likely to say they view him personally in a more favorable light while disapproving of the job he is doing.

With Trump, there's none of that. According to the Real Clear Politics polling average, Trump's job approval is at 44% while his personal favorability is 42%. There's just no difference between people who think he is doing a good job and people who like him. The opinions are one and the same.

Consider this (admittedly extreme) scenario: Trump is elected. He employs the exact same policies -- on trade, on regulations etc. -- that he has over his first two years in office. But he simply never appears in public. Never. He never tweets. Never.

Sure, there would be stories about our hermit President. People would wonder if something had happened to him. But it's hard for me to believe that if Trump had followed that plan, his party would not be in better shape to break historical trends against the party in power for midterm elections right now.

Of course, Donald Trump being Donald Trump, he could and would never play such a low-profile role. But given what we know about how presidential approval almost always moves in sync with economic satisfaction and optimism, it's hard to see Trump's lagging job approval ratings as anything but referendum not on his policies, but on him.

Which could make for a very interesting post-election period for Republicans if they wind up suffering -- as expected -- significant losses in the House. Political defeats -- and those defeated -- are always in search of scapegoats, and given the numbers I laid out above, the most obvious person to blame is the President of the United States.

BUT Trump has already made clear he isn't planning to accept any of the blame if Republicans lose the House or suffer other setbacks in four days' time. "I think I'm helping people," the President told the Associated Press in mid-October about whether he would accept blame. "They would say that in the old days that if you got the support of a President or if you've got the support of somebody it would be nice to have, but it meant nothing, zero. Like literally zero. Some of the people I've endorsed have gone up 40 and 50 points just on the endorsement."

In short: If Republicans lose on Tuesday, look out. It's a defeat that should fall at Trump's feet. Everyone knows that except, well, Trump.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
McLeod880
Carlton850
Dodge840
Polk812
Chippewa781
Unassigned7637
Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
Douglas620
Meeker611
Morrison591
Murray580
Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington500
Pipestone371
Mille Lacs342
Renville322
Wabasha310
Brown302
Rock300
Yellow Medicine300
Beltrami290
Fillmore280
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Calhoun492
Delaware491
Fayette480
Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
Palo Alto410
Davis391
Winneshiek380
Grundy370
Mitchell370
Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
Chickasaw280
Winnebago280
Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren200
Worth190
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
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