On the economy, polls show Republicans with an undeserved advantage

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Election Day 2022 is six weeks from tomorrow, and neither side can confidently predict what is likely to happen in this midterm cycle. Polls suggest that the more voters focus on reproductive rights, the better off Democrats will fare.

Those same surveys, however, suggest that the more focus on the economy, the better Republicans will fare. The Washington Post reported yesterday, for example, the results of its latest national poll conducted with ABC News.

The state of the economy looms as a major issue in the election… Voters say inflation and the economy are two of the most important issues in their decision, along with abortion and the ‘education. Republicans hold a 17-point advantage among registered voters on confidence in managing the economy and an 18-point advantage in confidence in managing inflation.

The results are fully in line with the latest data from NBC News, which released its latest national poll a week earlier, and found Republicans with a 19-point advantage over Democrats in handling the economy – a record. absolute for the GOP in an NBC News poll.

For Democrats, this is obviously an extremely serious problem. In the wake of the recession that began during Donald Trump’s last year in office, voters are clearly focused on economic considerations as a top priority. Right now, that leaves Republicans with a big advantage on a defining issue.

But stepping back from short-term electoral considerations, there is a larger concern: The GOP advantage is entirely undeserved.

Recent history, for example, paints an unbalanced picture. The New Republic’s Timothy Noah wrote an excellent article in May noting that literally every relevant metric – economic growth, job creation, median household income, et al. – the US economy has fared better in recent decades under Democratic governance.

It is unambiguously true. In fact, over the past three decades, there have been three recessions – one under each Republican administration. Simultaneously, all of the GOP’s predictions about the economy turned out to be wrong: Republicans said Bill Clinton’s economic agenda wouldn’t work (he did), George W. Bush’s tax breaks would work wonders ( they didn’t work); Barack Obama’s program would not end the Great Recession (he did), Trump’s tax breaks would produce an economic utopia (they did not) and Joe Biden’s program could not lead to the creation of 10 million new jobs in a year and a half (but that is precisely what happened).

Credibility should matter, and when it comes to the economy, the GOP has none.

Plus, the Republicans are barely trying to pretend they have anything resembling an economic agenda. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy unveiled his party’s “Pledge to America” ​​action plan on Friday, and it was comically vague on economic policy.

Voters learned, for example, that a GOP majority on Capitol Hill would “cut wasteful government spending. Such as? Republicans won’t tell. The same document assured the public that the party would pursue “pro-growth” fiscal policies, without any explanation of what that might entail or how many more breaks the party intends to give millionaires and billionaires.

For the electorate, trusting the GOP’s economic plans is effectively endorsing a black box.

Complicating matters is the uncomfortable fact that Republican gains in the midterm elections would likely make the economy worse, not better: GOP lawmakers have already expressed interest in creating a debt ceiling crisis and at least a shutdown government, which would likely take a heavy toll on our economic health.

I have no doubt that the data is accurate and that the Republican advantage is real. But the closer one looks at the party’s advance, the less sense it makes.

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