It is also true and frankly commonsensical that the strength of the economy is a big, big factor in a President’s reelection chances. This is hardly surprising. Indeed, it’s often been argued that President Clinton survived impeachment because he was then overseeing a strong economy. I think this judgement is largely wrong. The economy got brought into it because a lot of the elite national media was deeply invested in a resignation narrative that never came to pass. So the economy and moral decline got hauled in as the explanation.
The reality is simple. If this is a normal election and if the economy and incumbency have their normal effects on the outcome of a US presidential election Trump will not only win but win decisively.
I tend to agree with Marshall, but I’m not sure he’s right on this one.
In Clinton’s case, I think the economy was, in fact, a big deal for a lot of voters during the Clinton impeachment saga. Pundits and the political class were all wrapped up (as they always are) in the political drama, but most of the voting public wasn’t following the details. To them, the economy seemed to be doing okay, and Clinton was getting hassled over a blowjob.
The general public is not obsessing over political minutiae and policy. They engage with politics on a broad emotional level. That’s why Clinton didn’t get impeached, and I think it’s why, despite his bad polling and obvious unfitness at every possible level for the office of the president, Trump is likely to be reelected in 2020.