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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 58640

Reported Deaths: 1677
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin18641828
Ramsey7233261
Dakota4188104
Anoka3515114
Stearns286420
Washington200944
Nobles17536
Olmsted168823
Scott147918
Mower10942
Rice10138
Blue Earth8745
Wright8475
Carver8162
Clay76840
Sherburne7037
Kandiyohi6871
St. Louis48619
Todd4222
Lyon4213
Freeborn3581
Steele3381
Nicollet32913
Benton3153
Watonwan3010
Winona25416
Crow Wing22514
Beltrami2150
Le Sueur2101
Martin2045
Chisago1891
Goodhue1878
Otter Tail1853
Cottonwood1750
Becker1501
McLeod1480
Pipestone1479
Polk1453
Waseca1380
Douglas1360
Itasca13512
Carlton1320
Unassigned13241
Pine1280
Dodge1250
Murray1221
Isanti1160
Chippewa1011
Wabasha870
Brown862
Meeker852
Morrison851
Faribault830
Sibley822
Rock770
Koochiching743
Pennington731
Jackson720
Cass712
Mille Lacs693
Renville625
Fillmore610
Lincoln540
Grant523
Swift521
Yellow Medicine510
Pope460
Roseau460
Houston410
Norman370
Kanabec321
Redwood320
Wilkin323
Hubbard300
Aitkin291
Marshall290
Mahnomen261
Wadena240
Red Lake230
Big Stone220
Lake200
Stevens170
Clearwater150
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson30
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47424

Reported Deaths: 910
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10032206
Woodbury369151
Black Hawk308463
Linn227987
Johnson202116
Dallas184635
Buena Vista179112
Scott165514
Dubuque162331
Marshall142525
Pottawattamie128426
Story114114
Wapello87233
Muscatine84048
Webster7727
Crawford7263
Sioux6143
Cerro Gordo59617
Warren5471
Tama54529
Jasper46626
Wright4551
Plymouth4528
Louisa38014
Dickinson3774
Clinton3623
Washington29310
Boone2442
Hamilton2441
Franklin2339
Bremer2037
Clarke1953
Emmet1882
Carroll1851
Shelby1771
Clay1761
Hardin1730
Marion1620
Allamakee1544
Poweshiek1538
Des Moines1522
Jackson1481
Benton1461
Floyd1432
Mahaska13917
Guthrie1315
Cedar1281
Jones1272
Buchanan1231
Hancock1212
Butler1192
Henry1193
Pocahontas1151
Madison1142
Lyon1092
Lee1073
Cherokee1031
Clayton1023
Harrison1020
Humboldt1001
Delaware991
Taylor960
Iowa941
Monona910
Winneshiek911
Mills850
Page850
Calhoun832
Kossuth830
Sac820
Fayette810
Jefferson800
Palo Alto800
Osceola790
Mitchell780
Winnebago770
Grundy761
Union751
Monroe697
Worth650
Lucas574
Chickasaw540
Montgomery534
Davis521
Cass501
Howard490
Appanoose473
Greene390
Fremont370
Van Buren341
Keokuk331
Ida290
Audubon281
Adair270
Decatur230
Ringgold211
Wayne191
Adams160
Unassigned30
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