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Questions: Is Trump the Favorite for Re-Election, and is the Economy Sliding Toward Recession?

Two questions, then two slants on each answer.  First, is the US economy sustainably humming along -- which would obviously benefit President Trump's re-election push -- or are there signs of an approaching recession, which could doom his chances?  And second, is President Trump in better or worse shape in 2020 than the conventional wisdom might suggest.  On the former question, there are plenty of indications that the economy is thriving.  Here's another data point to add to that pile of evidence:

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting the labor market remains strong even as the economy is slowing...“Initial claims have been sending a reasonably upbeat message about conditions in the labor market,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York...Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 209,000 for the week ended Aug. 3, the government said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims would be unchanged at 215,000 in the latest week.

But from the same Reuters article, red flags over the trade war:

The jobless claims report from the Labor Department on Thursday, however, does not fully account for the impact of the recent escalation in the bitter trade war between the United States and China, which has led to an inversion of the U.S. Treasury yield curve and raised the risk of a recession. Worries about the trade war’s effect on the economic expansion, the longest on record, prompted the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates last week for the first time since 2008.

Sure enough:

And who could have predicted this?

As for the president's prospects for securing four more years in office, there are some positive signs that suggest the incumbent's vulnerability may be overstated:

However, these are daunting numbers in a key swing state that helped swing the 2016 election to Trump, stunning the Democrats:

General measures like job approval and the re-elect vs. change are more interesting at this stage than hypothetical head-to-heads.  If these findings prove even close to accurate -- Pennsylvania polling famously missed the mark (though not by too much) last cycle -- that's a very worrisome sign for Team Trump, even if it's very early.  I'll leave you with this:

One more thought: Gulp?

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