Is it still the economy, stupid?
Strong jobs numbers don't necessarily tell the full economic story
[Read the full article at CNBC]
One of the best-known slogans in recent political history is: "It's the economy, stupid."
This simple message helped propel Bill Clinton to the White House in 1992 and later sustained his popularity when he faced impeachment.
Candidates over the past quarter century have harkened back to this catchphrase—as incumbents running when the economy is strong or as challengers when the economy is weak. This year, Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are banking on the strength of the U.S. economy to defy the history of big midterm losses for the president's party.
But what if "It's the economy, stupid" turns out not to be so meaningful this year?
Arguably, this slogan didn't even apply after Clinton's successful presidential campaign. Despite a booming economy in the late 1990s, Democrats couldn't win back control of Congress. Clinton's vice president, Al Gore, wasn't able to translate a strong economy and huge stock market gains into victory in 2000.
More recently, Barack Obama won re-election in 2012 when the country was still climbing out of a recession. Four years later, Hillary Clinton couldn't leverage a fully recovered economy into an electoral victory.
For the Trump administration, the centerpiece of its economic record is strong jobs numbers, with the unemployment rate now at the lowest level since 2000. Last year's tax cut also allows the White House and congressional Republicans to argue they're putting more money in people's pockets.
Not surprisingly, Trump has used every occasion to tout his economic record. He even marked Memorial Day by boasting that fallen soldiers would be "happy and proud" about low unemployment numbers.
The problem for Trump, however, is that strong jobs numbers don't necessarily tell the full economic story for most people in this country.