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Will the Booming Economy Save Republicans in the Midterms?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Democrats need to win a net 23 seats in November to gain majority control in the House of Representatives. History suggests that they have a good chance of doing so because the party out of power almost always gains seats in the midterm. Even an average midterm gain would be enough to make Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House. Beyond that, many Democrats are dreaming of a big blue wave that could rival the smashing Republican victory in the Tea Party year of 2010.


However, polling shows that 77 percent of Republicans expect the GOP to remain in charge after all the votes are counted. Part of this, of course, is simply the result of partisan blinders. Additionally, many Republican voters remember how Hillary Clinton was universally projected to win in 2016. As a result, they dismiss out of hand any evidence of bad news in 2018.

More than anything else, though, many Republicans can't imagine how their party could lose when the economy is booming. They credit GOP policies with generating faster economic growth, record-high consumer confidence and the lowest levels of jobless claims in 50 years.

From a purely political view, the problem with that logic is that the Republicans have not done a very good job selling that message. Data from The Jobs Creators Network and Weekly Pulse highlight this reality. Our weekly economic tracking confirms the general sense of optimism about the overall economy and about personal finances.

But far from giving credit to the GOP policies, more than a third of all adults (36 percent) don't even know that Congress passed a law last year that cut taxes for most Americans.


The tax cut will save an average family of four $1,200 this year. Nearly half of all adults (44 percent) believe the average savings will be even half that much, and 23 percent think the average savings will be $100 or less. Perhaps because of this, just 34 percent of voters nationwide believe the GOP tax cuts have helped the economy. Twenty-four percent believe the tax cuts have hurt the economy.

What's especially stunning about this messaging failure is that the general public is predisposed to believe in the GOP's economic approach. When asked what the federal government should do to help the economy, 72 percent say cut spending, taxes or regulations. Sixteen percent favor creating new government programs to meet specific needs, and 7 percent believe more regulation would help.

Perhaps the most telling piece of data highlights a clear repudiation of official Washington. Among the nation's political leaders, a simplified understanding of Keynesian economic theory guides economic policy. It is widely assumed that increased government spending and higher deficits are good for the economy. That may be the understanding in Washington, but only 4 percent of Americans think that's the best way for the government to help.


Still, despite the strong economy and the public's predisposition to believe that GOP policies deserve at least some of the credit, the message has not gotten through. That messaging failure is one more reason that Democrats are favored to win the House in November.

Scott Rasmussen is the publisher of He is the author of "The Sun Is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed but America Will Not."

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