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Inside the Beltway: Red-hot economy could trump the blue wave

November 6, 2018 GMT

Step aside, now, it’s showtime. The media has gone into overdrive as the nation braces for the midterm elections now billed as on par with a presidential bout. The Democratic Party and its army of strategists and sympathetic journalists have ramped up alarm and melodrama as a get-out-the-vote tool assuring their flock that a blue wave is the only way to wash President Trump out of office and save America or words to that effect.

But the booming, cheerful, productive, powerhouse economy may trump that Democratic message. Money still talks. Loudly.

This is no startling revelation. Dozens of opinion polls already have revealed that voters say the economy and jobs creation is a deciding issue for them. Dozens of polls have also revealed that even Democrats and progressives acknowledge that the economy is better and their personal financial outlook has improved and many actually credit Mr. Trump and his administration for fostering this feat.

Will Democrats waver when they enter the poll booth and consider their 401(k) or new tax breaks? Consider a CBS News poll released Sunday which found that 48 percent of the respondents planned to vote Democratic in the all-important House vote; 45 percent planned to back Republicans. Now comes the million-dollar question.

“Would you ever consider voting for a Republican congressional candidate this year” CBS asked, directing the inquiry to “those not voting for Republicans.”

The poll found that 19 percent said they could switch to the GOP. That included 25 percent of the elusive and much coveted voting bloc of those ages 18-29 the highest percentage among the 17 demographics represented. Even 1-out-of-10 liberals said they would consider tossing their vote to a Republican.

A new paper released Monday by a research team led by Thomas Ferguson emeritus professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts and research director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking explores the economy’s influence on voters.

“Most analysts of the 2016 election have concluded that social anxieties overwhelmingly predominated in explaining the result. They argue that the story is simple: Trump was elected by ‘deplorables,’ fueled by racial resentment, sexism, and fear or dislike of immigrants from abroad. Economics, they say, made little or no difference. This story has been repeated so often in many parts of the mass media that it has hardened into a kind of common sense narrative. Our new paper shows that this view is mistaken,” says Mr. Ferguson.

“While agreeing that racial resentment and sexism were important influences, the paper shows how various economic considerations including concerns about imports and job losses, wealth inequality, social welfare programs, and starved infrastructure helped Trump win the Republican primary and then led significant blocs of voters to shift from supporting Democrats or abstaining in 2012 to voting for him,” Mr. Ferguson notes.

AND HOW ARE VOTERS HOLDING UP?

More than 4-in-10 voters, 43 percent, say they feel “angry” about the 2018 midterm elections according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll. Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president, says an “anger gap along partisan lines” could influence the results on Tuesday night.

“Anger among Democratic voters is strong ahead of Election Day, which could enhance the party’s chances at the ballot box. Notably, three in five (59 percent) Democrats say they feel angry going into the midterm elections, compared to 30 percent of Republicans who say the same,” Mr. Sinclair told Politico.

Things could works both ways, though. The poll also found that 66 percent of Democratic voters said they felt “worried,” compared to 44 percent of Republicans. Another 41 percent of the Dems said they were depressed over the midterms, compared to 22 percent of the GOPers. And 44 percent of Democrats felt “helpless” while 27 percent of Republicans agreed. See an overview of the numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

THE PARTY’S PARTIES

There are so many election night parties in the nation’s capital that The Hill, Roll Call and The Washingtonian published special sections to cover them all. Establishments in Washington and other cities are also offering drink discounts for anyone wearing a “I Voted” sticker.

The swanky Ritz Carlton Hotel, in fact, will offer a complimentary cocktail titled ’Where the Left and Right Meet” to those who show up with the sticker. Curious? The cocktail consists of Jack Daniels, a concentrated reduction of mulled California wine, lemon juice and simple sugar syrup.

The New York Times, meanwhile, has offered a how-to tutorial for a proper midterm election gathering “if you dare.” The fete includes themed food and cocktails, plus advice on how to either gloat or weep in public.

“It’s a risky move, since parties on election nights aren’t always as fun as you imagine beforehand. You’re tempting fate here,” writes Times reporter Daniel Victor.

PAT BOONE’S POLITICAL PROWESS

At age 84, legendary musician Pat Boone a golden-voiced conservative crooner who has sold 45 million records has continued to record political robocalls on behalf of John Cox’s campaign for California governor, and for Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of California and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

“If I win in a squeaker, Pat Boone will have made the difference,” Mr. Rohrabacher tells the Hollywood Reporter. “I’m being outspent 10-1 because of billionaire leftists, but I’d rather have Pat. He’s the most beloved Hollywood figure over 60 years old. He’s trustworthy. He gives me credibility with that demographic,” Mr. Rohrabacher says.

“It’s not the first time Boone’s been told how effective his telephone pleas have been, as the singer is an occasional confidante of Trump, and White House insiders say his 3 million robocalls in 2015 targeting Christian senior citizens may have made the difference in swing states two years ago,” the industry publication noted.

POLL DU JOUR

74 percent of U.S. voters are “interested” in the midterm elections; 65 percent of Americans feel “hopeful” and 55 percent are “worried.”

52 percent feel “frustrated”; 50 percent feel “confident” and 48 percent are “excited.”

43 percent feel “angry,” and 39 percent feel “happy.”

35 percent feel “helpless,” 31 percent feel “confused,” 28 percent feel “depressed.”

24 percent feel “indifferent” and 23 percent are “bored.”

Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,961 registered U.S. voters conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 2. The poll gave respondents a list of possible emotional reactions to agree or disagree.

Enjoy Election Night, and thank you for reading Inside the Beltway.