Here we have two new headlines that the Trump administration and Republicans are eager to share far and wide, followed by two data points that highlight real cause for concern among Team Trump and the GOP. First, on the economy, robust US GDP growth marched ahead last quarter -- despite tamped-down expectations, due to multiple devastating hurricanes that slammed major population centers:
BREAKING: US economy grew at solid 3 percent rate in July-September quarter despite hurricanes.— The Associated Press (@AP) October 27, 2017
The U.S. economy unexpectedly maintained a brisk pace of growth in the third quarter as an increase in inventory investment and a smaller trade deficit offset a hurricane-related slowdown in consumer spending and a decline in construction. Gross domestic product increased at a 3.0 percent annual rate in the July-September period after expanding at a 3.1 percent pace in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said on Friday. The department said while it was impossible to estimate the overall impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma on third-quarter GDP, preliminary estimates showed that the back-to-back storms had caused losses of $121.0 billion in privately owned fixed assets and $10.4 billion in government-owned fixed assets.
I tend to believe that presidents often get too much blame and credit for the performance of the nation's economy, but a credible case can be made that Trump's deregulation and pro-business signals, coupled with the (advancing) promise of tax reform, have fostered confidence and optimism. Meanwhile, here's what's happening with Democrats' signature domestic law:
Premiums for the most popular ObamaCare plans are rising by an average of 34 percent in 2018 in states that use Healthcare.gov, according to a new independent analysis. The study released Wednesday by consulting firm Avalere Health said the premium increases in "silver" plans are being driven primarily by marketplace instability amid uncertainty over the future of ObamaCare. Specifically, the study said the Trump administration's elimination of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, lower than anticipated enrollment in the marketplace, limited insurer participation and insufficient action by the government to reimburse plans that cover higher-cost enrollees all helped contribute to the premium increases...Silver plans are considered the benchmark plans for people who purchase insurance through an ObamaCare exchange. Average premiums for bronze, gold and platinum plans will rise 18, 16 and 24 percent, respectively, the analysis found.
Double-digit increases across every premium level, with the "baseline" plans hardest hit. Yes, the White House's legally-required decision to end illegal CSR payments is having an impact, but other driving factors are fundamental flaws in the law. Bad enrollment figures and fleeing carriers are direct results of the "Affordable" Care Act's lack of affordability. As ever, Obamacare is not failing because of Trump. Taken together, these stories point to an energetic and strengthening US economy while highlighting the ongoing failures of a Democratic scheme. And yet, the latest Fox News poll doesn't reflect public satisfaction with the party in charge:
New Fox poll:— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) October 27, 2017
Overal Trump approval: -19
On Economy -5
Generic Congressional Ballot: D+15
(Sample a dubious D+12)
A few caveats, lest Democrats get over-confident: (1) As mentioned in the tweet, the partisan sample is D+12, which is a clear outlier, and definitely explains part of the left-shaded results. (2) Despite support for Obamacare increasing amid GOP repeal efforts, it's not as though the public is actually happy with that mess. Do Trump's weak numbers (including at the state level) guarantee that his party will pay a price next year? Perhaps, but his poor standing in Virginia hasn't prevented (an uneven) polling surge for Ed Gillespie, nor is it helping solidify the standing of Florida's Democratic Senator ahead of his re-election bid:
Not only is Nelson’s 37-36 percent lead over Scott well within the poll’s error margin, it indicates that the Democrat has lost ground to the Republican. The poll was released Tuesday. The last time UNF surveyed the race, in February, Nelson led Scott 44-38 percent...A major problem for Nelson: He’s essentially unknown to 49 percent of registered voters...Scott could have trouble if Florida voters identify him with President Donald Trump, a close ally of the governor’s. Only 37 percent of Florida voters approve of the job Trump is doing; 59 percent disapprove. That means his net job-approval rating is negative 22. In the February UNF poll, Trump’s net job-approval rating was negative 7. Scott’s job-approval rating rose from 36 percent in February to 59 percent in UNF’s most recent poll. In that time, Nelson’s job approval fell from 42 percent to 35 percent.
People who confidently predict what the polls mean in 2017 and 2018 are guessing. Trump scrambled some basic rules of political gravity in 2016, and its unclear how that will shake out moving forward.