While polling over President Donald Trump’s favorability and job approval continue to paint a rather dismal picture for the incumbent heading into the 2020 election cycle, the incredibly robust economy could very well “trump” those opinion polls come Election Day.
Such was the report from Politico on Thursday, in light of recent predictions by economists and market watchers who base their guesses off specific economic indicators and prediction models. These predictions leave aside opinion polls and other intangibles like favorability ratings and job approval numbers or personality traits.
If the election were to be held today, or if the same economic indicators from today remain similar in November 2020, President Trump stands poised to win re-election by a massive landslide in the Electoral College. (Maybe that’s why Democrats are so fervently calling for that institution’s abolishment?)
TrendMacrolytics, a decidedly “apolitcal and non-partisan” market research organization, released the latest version of its 2020 presidential election prediction model on Monday.
This economics-based model is the same one that accurately predicted Trump’s 2016 election and former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election in real time. It has also successfully matched the results of virtually all presidential elections since 1952 in predictive backtests.
TrendMacro reveals its 2020 presidential election model. Same model called Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. You’re never going to believe what it’s saying now. https://t.co/ge88hD33vA
— Donald L. Luskin (@DonLuskin) March 16, 2019
“The economy is just so damn strong right now and by all historic precedent the incumbent should run away with it,” Donald Luskin, chief investment officer of TrendMacrolytics, told Politico. “I just don’t see how the blue wall could resist all that.”
As noted, economic models like Luskin’s ignore opinion polls and the like and instead focus solely on economic data — like gas prices, growth rates, inflation, wages and other such economy-related factors — to reliably estimate what voters will do.
Former President Bill Clinton’s adviser James Carville was right on in 1992 when he said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” The economy is one of the most important factors in presidential elections.
The prediction of a Trump re-election in 2020 by TrendMacrolytics was matched by Yale economist Ray Fair. Fair was one of the first to use economic predictors and is credited as an inspiration by TrendMacrolytics.
“Even if you have a mediocre but not great economy — and that’s more or less consensus for between now and the election — that has a Trump victory and by a not-trivial margin,” Fair told Politico.
Of course, all of that could change over the next year and a half, particularly if the explosive economic growth seen over the last couple years slows significantly and low unemployment numbers creep back up. That prediction could also change if a global recession hits the U.S. hard, not to mention if some massive — and actually legitimate — scandal were to erupt that tarnished Trump’s popularity even among his rather ardent base of supporters.
The TrendMacro model — which looks exclusively at “GDP growth, gas prices, inflation, disposable income, tax burden and payrolls” — predicted as of now that Trump will win re-election with a huge margin in the Electoral College of around 294 votes more than his challenger.
Even economists who are political and don’t like President Trump — such as Mark Zandi, the highly critical chief economist at Moody’s Analytics — have reached similar conclusions as Luskin’s TrendMacro prediction model.
Zandi has tested a dozen different economic models of his own for 2020, and admitted to Politico that Trump wins in all 12 of them — in most cases quite easily.
“If the election were held today, Trump would win according to the models and pretty handily,” Zandi explained. “In three or four of them it would be pretty close. He’s got low gas prices, low unemployment and a lot of other political variables at his back.”
“The only exception is his popularity, which matters a lot. If that falls off a cliff it would make a big difference,” Zandi added.
Even some prominent Democratic strategists, such as former top Obama aide Dan Pfieffer, have seen the writing on the wall and know they face a substantial uphill climb in their bid to unseat Trump in 2020, largely due to the strong economy.
Pfieffer called Trump an “incompetent clown,” but nevertheless cautioned his fellow Democrats to not become “overly confident or sanguine” about easily defeating him, and admitted that Trump is a “slight favorite” to win re-election.
This is incredible news for President Trump and his supporters as the 2020 election cycle draws ever near.
That said, there is no reason for anyone to become complacent about an assured victory, as the economy could easily suffer a downturn over the coming year.
Democrats most certainly aren’t about to cede defeat, either. They will fight tooth and nail — and in as dirty and underhanded a fashion as they have been already — to throw a wrench in Trump’s plans for a second term in the White House.