It is an enduring political question amid a pandemic recession, double-digit unemployment and a recovery that appears to be slowing: Why does President Trump continue to get higher marks on economic issues in polls than his predecessors Barack Obama, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush enjoyed when they stood for re-election?
Mr. Trump’s relative strength on the economy, and whether Joseph R. Biden Jr. can cut into it over the next 10 weeks, are among the crucial dynamics in battleground states in the Midwest and the Sun Belt that are expected to decide the election. Many of these states have struggled this summer with rising coronavirus infection and death rates as well as job losses and vanishing wages and savings — hard times that, history suggests, will pose a threat to an incumbent president seeking re-election.
Yet polling data and interviews with voters and political analysts suggest that a confluence of factors are raising Mr. Trump’s standing on the economy issue, which remains a centerpiece of his pitch for a second term and is expected to be a major theme of the Republican National Convention this week.
The president has built an enduring brand with conservative voters, in particular, who continue to see him as a successful businessman and tough negotiator. Many of those voters praise his economic stewardship before the pandemic hit, and they do not blame him for the damage it has caused. In interviews, some of those voters cited record stock market gains — although only about half of Americans own any stock at all — as evidence of a rebound under the president.
“He’s had failures — so have I — in business,” said Dale Georgeff, 58, of Cedarburg, Wis., a Trump supporter who owns parts of a brewery and a vehicle paint shop and also sells insurance. “But I think the biggest thing is that — and I think this is how it rubs certain people the wrong way — he’s treating this like a business, and he’s running it like a business.”
David Winton, a Republican strategist and pollster, said that Mr. Trump’s ratings had been bolstered by the economy’s adding nine million jobs in May, June and July, after it lost more than 20 million in March and April. Mr. Trump’s approval on the economy “has still generally remained positive, and better than his overall job approval,” he said. “This has certainly been helped by the last three good monthly jobs reports that occurred despite the continuing restrictions on many businesses to operate.”
Polling suggests that Americans who form Mr. Trump’s voter base are less likely to have lost a job or income than Democratic or independent voters. That divergence is partially driven by race — the coronavirus crisis has disproportionately harmed Black and Latino workers, who lean heavily Democratic — but may also reflect regional divides. Small business owners in small, more rural states that backed Mr. Trump in the 2016 election report less economic damage from the crisis than those in larger blue states, according to an analysis of census survey data by the Economic Innovation Group in Washington.
Perhaps most notably, Mr. Trump is reaping the benefits of extreme polarization of the American electorate, a divide so intense that it has overpowered long-running connections between economic performance and presidential approval ratings. For many Republican voters and conservatives, optimism about the economy and approval of the president have become deeply entwined — and for Democrats, disfavor for Mr. Trump brought deep pessimism over the economy even in the years of growth and low unemployment before the crisis.
Polls conducted in June, July and August for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey underscore the degree to which even Republicans hit hard by the crisis continue to give Mr. Trump and his economy high marks. Eight in 10 Republican respondents who lost a job in the recession and have yet to return to work approve of Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Nearly three in 10 Republicans who lost jobs say they are better off economically than they were a year ago, a sentiment that is shared by barely one in 10 Democrats who have kept their jobs throughout the crisis.
“For so many of these voters, opinions of Trump are basically baked in,” said Amy Walter, national editor for the Cook Political Report in Washington, who has written extensively on the economy and Mr. Trump’s electoral fortunes. “And what the actual economic situation is in November is less important to them than it would be in a different time with different candidates.”
Mr. Trump’s overall approval ratings have never cracked a majority throughout his presidency. Voters have given him higher approval ratings on his handling of the economy — he topped 60 percent in one survey this year before the pandemic hit — even as some of his signature economic initiatives, like the 2017 tax cut package he signed into law, remain relatively unpopular.
But the plunge in economic activity since the coronavirus began to spread rapidly in the United States late this past winter has hurt Mr. Trump’s standing on economic issues as well as his overall approval. Most polls now find Americans are evenly split on whether they approve of his handling of the issue.
Gallup, for example, found Mr. Trump enjoyed a 48 percent approval rating on the economy this month, down from 63 percent in January. The decline was particularly acute among moderates, independents and voters who attended at least some college.
In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, two-thirds of Americans said the economy was in bad shape — the most since 2014, and a 20-percentage-point increase in negative ratings of the economy since Mr. Trump took office.
The decline in sentiment is hurting Mr. Trump in his campaign against Mr. Biden, the Democratic nominee. Among registered voters who said they thought the economy was doing badly, 70 percent planned to support Mr. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, in November, according to the ABC/Post poll.
But Mr. Biden, the former vice president, is far from commanding on the issue: Voters were split almost evenly into thirds on the question of whether the economy would be in better, worse or about the same shape now, if he were president. And while some polls this summer showed the candidates deadlocked on the question of who would best handle the economy, Mr. Trump led Mr. Biden on handling the economy in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this week. A Reuters poll had the men tied.
Mr. Biden emphasized his plans to create jobs and to bring the virus under control in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last week, and he criticized Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic. “I understand something this president doesn’t,” Mr. Biden said. “We will never get our economy back on track, we will never get our kids safely back to school, we will never have our lives back — until we deal with this virus.”
The Biden campaign has sought to link Mr. Trump to the recession in television advertisements, including one that proclaims that “Trump’s botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic cost jobs.” Campaign officials say Mr. Biden and his surrogates will increase those attacks in the weeks to come.
Mr. Trump “still has no plan to bring the pandemic under control or end the recession he catastrophically and needlessly worsened,” Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesman, said on Saturday.
The president continues to express confidence that economic issues favor him in the race, even as he overstates his mixed position in polls. “We’re building up the economy,” Mr. Trump said on Friday in Arlington, Va. “And we’re way ahead, by every poll — even the fake polls — we’re way ahead on the economy, which is very important.”
Partisan politics — and divergent experiences with the virus — factor heavily into the remaining divide. The SurveyMonkey polling shows Republicans are less likely to have lost a job in the crisis than Democrats or independents, though the gap shrinks when comparing only white voters. In the recovery from the depths of recession, the unemployment rate has remained higher for Black and Latino workers than for whites.
“Republicans are putting more importance on the economic issues of the pandemic,” said Laura Wronski, a research scientist for SurveyMonkey, “and Democrats are putting more importance on the health issues.”
Fewer than one in five conservative Republicans worries about losing a job in the crisis, far less than any other ideological group, the SurveyMonkey polling shows. (In perhaps a troubling sign for Mr. Trump, the group that worries most about job loss is independent voters.) Nearly two in five conservative Republicans say that by late October “the virus will be under control, and the economy will be strong or steadily improving,” which is more than double the rate of Americans overall. Only 3 percent of Democrats agree with that statement.
“I’ve seen a steady growth since he’s been in office,” said Rick Slowicki, president of Nonstop Couriers, a delivery service in Philadelphia that employs 11 people, runs 14 vehicles and expects revenue of $1.3 million this year. “I just bought three new vehicles with the confidence that we’re going to grow, even during Covid. I’m doubling down.”
Others praise Mr. Trump’s populist trade policies, including tariffs on imports from China that Mr. Trump claims have returned manufacturing jobs to America. “He is the only individual who has actually brought jobs back to the U.S.A. and put the country first,” said Dale Palmer, 63, a Republican who supports Mr. Trump and owns a boiler service business in Byron Center, Mich.
Democrats predict that if the recovery stalls in the fall and economic damage mounts anew, Mr. Trump’s economic ratings will plunge.
“Trump is a master at convincing people of his alternative reality,” said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who is an outside adviser to Mr. Biden. “But he will be unable to do so as people face evictions, job losses, falling incomes and tremendous difficulties meeting their basic needs. At some point, reality TV collides with reality.”
Reporting was contributed by Ben Casselman, Kathleen Grey, Jon Hurdle, Tom Kertscher, Alan Rappeport and Giovanni Russonello.
U.S. housing market to remain a bright spot in a weak economy – TheChronicleHerald.ca
By Hari Kishan and Richa Rebello
BENGALURU (Reuters) – U.S. house prices will continue to surge well into next year and beyond, outpacing inflation and the overall economy, a Reuters poll of property analysts found, making it a bright spot against an otherwise gloomy economic backdrop.
In a stark reversal, the U.S. housing market – at the epicenter of the global financial crisis more than a decade ago – was expected to extend a helping hand to an economy severely battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Buoyed by record-low interest rates and strong pent-up demand from a segment of the workforce largely unaffected by pandemic-induced job cuts, house prices will continue to rise over the next two years, the Sept. 15-29 poll of over 40 analysts showed.
U.S. house prices were predicted to rise 4.0% this year and by an average 3.5% in 2021 and 2022. That suggests the trend since 2013 of house price rises outpacing consumer inflation would continue for the next three years at least, according to current inflation expectations. [ECILT/US]
Underscoring the view that the latest data showing a surge in house prices was not just a blip, over 60% of analysts, or 24 of 39 who responded to an additional question, said that trend would continue to hold for at least another year. The remaining 15 said less than a year.
“Three factors support relatively high home prices – undersupply after a decade of underbuilding, single-family housing attractiveness in a socially distancing world, and most importantly low interest rates,” said Nathaniel Karp, chief U.S. economist at BBVA.
“However, economic uncertainty remains elevated and the recovery after the pandemic could take time, which are the risks to the current valuations.”
U.S. house prices outlook: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/polling/xlbvgjmgepq/Reuters%20Poll-U.S.%20house%20prices%20outlook.PNG
Already tight inventory levels have been squeezed to record lows after construction activity came to a grinding halt because of the coronavirus pandemic, and with no policy relief expected, home buyers may outbid each other and crank up prices.
Existing home sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6 million units in August, the highest since the tail end of the previous housing boom in 2006, and were expected to average around 5.5 million units in the coming year.
“A surge in demand has put further strain on an already tight inventory. The latest supply of existing homes dropped below three months (of inventory) for the first time since records began in 1982, and that implies sales will ease back toward the end of the year,” said Matthew Pointon, property economist at Capital Economics.
When asked to rate the affordability on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 as extremely cheap and 10 as very expensive, the poll gave a median of 7, up from 6 in the previous poll when predictions were for house prices to rise at a slower pace than currently expected.
“U.S. home prices are not yet at a level that is concerning,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate. “That said, we need significant growth in the number of new homes built to meet current demand. If more units are not provided, we could see unsustainable upward price pressure in the resale market.”
(Reporting by Hari Kishan; Additional reporting and polling by Richa Rebello and Tushar Goenka; Editing by Ross Finley and Andrea Ricci)
Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald weighs in on rebuilding Canada's economy – CBC.ca
Last week’s speech from the throne was a chance for the federal government to set up its vision for the future, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald was listening closely.
It’s her job to work with the provincial and federal governments on issues relevant to local First Nations, and she says more concrete action is needed to ensure governments meet their reconciliation commitments.
“I heard a couple of things that I thought were hopeful and certainly could apply to First Nations. And those were the announcements around women in the economy and further investments in youth employment. So those things I thought were very positive,” Archibald said.
But she said she was greatly disappointed by the lack of attention to boil water advisories.
“In Ontario, we have 66 communities under boil water advisories and we have four that have do-not-consume orders. And that’s half of our communities. We have 133 First Nations in Ontario. And so that, to me, is not acceptable,” she said.
While the throne speech in 2019 set a clear target date of March 2021 to eliminate the long-term advisories, this year’s speech from the throne made no reference to that deadline. The federal government is apparently less comfortable with that goal, due to the pandemic, CBC learned from a senior government source.
“The fact that the date of March 2021 was dropped from their original target date also speaks to the ability that they’re not going to meet their target date. We are still waiting for clean drinking water, a basic human right for First Nations,” said Archibald.
The pandemic has also made it more difficult to get construction workers into communities.
There have been enough delays, says Archibald. “What we really need now, moving forward, is accelerated funding and accelerated action.”
“If these were 66 non-native communities, 66 municipalities, it would not be acceptable. There would be billions and billions of dollars and really swift action taken. And to me, that speaks to the systemic racism within government and within the whole system. And that has to change. We have to move beyond that. We have to come out of this pandemic in a better, better space than when we went in.”
Ontario First Nations facing big deficits
Archibald says if government wants an example of what swift, decisive action looks like, it should look to how Indigenous leaders have handled the pandemic in their communities.
“Many of them lock down their communities. They took a harder line than, say, surrounding municipalities, on how to protect citizens, because they know that the health system within their community in many cases is non-existent or if it does exist there, it’s inadequate,” she said.
Community leaders were forced to make these hard choices because of a lack of government-provided infrastructure, said Archibald. For that, she says chiefs and councils across Ontario really deserve recognition for their “strong leadership.”
“They know that they don’t have clean drinking water, many of them. So how can they wash their hands with soap and water? They know that they are in a great disadvantage going into the pandemic and therefore had to take harder action,” she said.
“So if anybody’s really made a difference on the pandemic, it’s been First Nations and they’ve done so because of the chronic under funding by governments for their communities.”
Archibald acknowledges that, like all levels of government, First Nations are going to come out of the pandemic with serious deficits.
“Every government is going into debt right now in order to respond to the pandemic and First Nations are no different. The difference is the ability to recover,” said Archibald.
Windsor Morning7:13Throne speech response
The difference, she said, is First Nations’ communities don’t have the same tools other levels of government have to stimulate recovery when the dust settles.
“The government of Canada, or even the government of Ontario, they have the ability to borrow [and] repay because they can rebuild their economies. And what are their economies based on? The land that everybody lives on, and that is treaty land.”
Everyone in Canada is a treaty holder, Archibald said.
“And when we think about rebuilding the wealth of Canada and rebuilding the wealth of Ontario — that is coming from First Nations, and we need to be a part of that.”
Hiring marginalized workers could aid Canada’s economy after coronavirus: report – Global News
The federal Green party accidentally kept donations that were meant to support the leadership campaign of Glen Murray, it said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
Contributions meant for the former Winnipeg mayor and Ontario Liberal cabinet minister were incorrectly treated as general donations and kept in party coffers rather than being passed on.
Donations to the Green leadership candidates have been routed through the party, which processed them and passed 75 per cent of each contribution on to the campaign that raised the money.
Murray said in an interview that his campaign discovered proof of the problem last week, after spotting that donations his team received and passed on to the party office never came back for the campaign to use.
“We know it’s a very significant proportion of the funding we raised,” he said, likely tens of thousands of dollars.
Elizabeth May says throne speech needs to include climate action or Greens won’t vote confidence
Officially, the Murray campaign’s last fundraising report said it had brought in $59,650.20, making a discrepancy on that scale very significant.
Besides making his fundraising look weaker than it was, the mistake meant Murray couldn’t afford to do all the campaigning he would have liked.
“It really gummed up our planning,” he said.
The Greens’ interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts said that the party is still determining just how much money was improperly withheld. But it would make the top fundraisers’ tallies “much closer.”
The party also said restitution to the Murray campaign will be made “as quickly as possible.”
Voting for the party leadership has been underway since Saturday, with the winner to be announced Oct. 3.
This week, Murray said, his volunteers are torn between trying to track down misdirected contributions and doing what a campaign normally does in the final phase of a race: contacting supporters to make sure they’ve voted.
Murray said he doesn’t know whether the situation can be put right this late in the game.
“Heartbreakingly, I don’t know what they can do now,” he said.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
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