The president, foolishly, decided to hand the media a shiny distraction on a silver platter this morning, hurling a nasty personal insult at Stormy Daniels, with whom he had a sexual affair. Yes, she's taken gross and tacky shots at him, but she's a porn star, and he's the President of the United States. With the Kavanaugh Effect boosting Republicans, and the Elizabeth Warren meltdown backfiring, the press will be absolutely delighted to highlight this example of Trump's petty, churlish rhetoric against a woman -- coverage of which will overshadow the significant legal victory Trump scored against Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, last night. He can't help himself.
Sometimes, his messaging strategy is brilliant and subversive to the mainstream media's biased agenda. Other times, it's just stupid and self-defeating. This is an example of the latter phenomenon. It's doubly ill-advised because it steps all over the latest round of strong economic news, which is the number one arrow in Republicans' electoral quiver this cycle. According to a fresh CNBC poll, Americans' confidence in the US economy has boomed since Trump took office. Deregulation and tax relief and reform are working:
Economic optimism up 28 points in 2 years https://t.co/XUFhauKF7G— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) October 16, 2018
Indeed, the poll found that 48 percent of the public is optimistic about the current economy and optimistic it will get better, the highest level in the poll's 11-year history and more than double the 20 percent registered in the December 2016 survey. The poll, conducted Oct. 4th through the 7th, shows 83 percent of Republicans are optimistic but also 22 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Independent voters...Working in the Republicans' favor is not only record-high optimism about the economy but also about the stock market and near-record high optimism about wage growth. American expect their wages to grow an average of 5.1 percent in the next year, up from 4.7 percent in the June survey and the highest since 2008. A record-high 51 percent of the public say now is a good time to invest in stocks, with a record-low 25 percent saying it's a bad time.
That's a big uptick among independents, a majority of whom approve of the president's economic job performance (Trump's overall economic approval rating is 51 percent, ten full points higher than his base job approval number). This data comes on the heels of a recent CBS News poll showing three-quarters of voters describing the nation's economic conditions as very or somewhat good. Eager to keep this momentum front and center, outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered a speech at the National Press Club on Monday, in which he ticked down the list of accomplishments and positive indicators:
Two years ago, @HouseGOP offered the country a unified, optimistic policy agenda—#ABetterWay. Today:— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) October 8, 2018
→ The unemployment rate is at 49-year low
→ Wages and benefits are up
→ 9/10 workers will see more take home pay
America’s economy and its workers are #BetterOffNow. pic.twitter.com/BdCW7tIEtK
CNBC: Job openings hit record 7.136 million in August— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) October 16, 2018
And despite wage stagnation being a stubborn problem for years, there's been important progress on that front, too -- including for low-income and middle class households. Wages and productivity are both up, in addition to the other happy news. If Republicans pounded home a "jobs vs. mobs" theme for the final stretch of the campaign, they might defy the conventional wisdom and fare okay in the election. That requires some modicum of message discipline and focus; it does not involve the president publicly ridiculing an adult entertainer as "horse face." I'll leave you with this quote from a Democratic pollster who analyzed CNBC's new data: "Still, Jay Campbell, the Democratic pollster for the survey and a partner with Hart Research Associates, is skeptical of a wave for the Democrats, saying the six-point advantage is 'not enough to suggest this is going to be a massive wave election a la 2010.' Campbell did add that the survey found a large 17 percent of undecided voters who will be critical to the outcome." Undecideds break late, and often break against the party in power in the first midterm election of a new presidency. Republicans have reasons to be (cautiously) more optimistic, but heavy risks remain. By the way, did I mention that the US economy is humming along right now?