The changes in the Presidential race over the last three weeks – since the 1st debate – have been dramatic. Once a 2-3 point race, Clinton’s lead today in the Huffington Post poll average is almost 8 points this morning. This graph from the Politico/Morning Consult poll is worth reviewing, to remind us that Trump’s dive began with his own performance in the 1st debate – not with the emergence of the Trump tape and its aftermath as he has been suggesting in recent days:
On the big question of whether this turns into a wave election for the Democrats, I would argue that new data out this week suggests the chances are rising. Obama’s job approval in Gallup has been hovering in the mid 50s, the highest mark of his second term – and rising. Using the Huffington Post pollster site, Party ID which was in narrow band of 1-5 points for the Democrats most of the year is now closer to 7 – and widening. The Congressional Generic which was 2-3 points a few weeks ago is now close to 6, and a majority of recent polls have had it 5 plus. The Morning Consult/Politico track had it 3 on October 8, 5 on October 10th and 7 today. And has we covered in our recent report on the economy, virtually all economic indicators and perceptions of the economy by voters are trending upward – quite a way to end an election.
What is likely to turn this election into a wave is if the many Millennials who are still supporting third party candidates break into party line Democrats and vote. If that happens, what appears to a good election for Democrats could turn into a very good one – perhaps even a wave.
The repeated assertion by Donald Trump that the upcoming election is “rigged” and thus illegitimate needs to be denounced forcefully by all Republicans, including the Chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Preibus. It is not only an unprecedented attack on the legitimacy of our political system by the nominee of an American political party, it is disturbingly resonant of the strategic aims of Vladimir Putin – to weaken the image of democratic capitalism and the West in the eyes of the world. Republicans must rediscover their inner patriot immediately – and not just denounce Trump’s outrageous claims, but also repudiate the involvement of a foreign adversary and its allied institutions like WikiLeaks in an American election.
The GOP’s drift from full throated support of American democratic norms is not something new to our politics. From shutting the government down as a tactic in a normal budget negotiation, to yelling “liar” at the President during the State of the Union, to an historic abuse of the Senate filibuster, to denying President Obama his Constitutional right to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, the national Republican Party has been crossing lines that should not be crossed in our democracy far too often in recent years.
But there has been perhaps no greater betrayal of the American creed than the systemic effort by Republicans across the country in the last several years to make it harder for Americans to vote. While in theory one could defend the idea of “voter ID,” courts now have repeatedly determined that the way it has been crafted by Republicans have been unconstitutional and illegal; and the other steps taken by Republicans in the name of “reform” to eliminate early voting windows, reduce the number of polling locations and erect barriers for registration have been designed with only one malevolent intent in mind – to make it harder for everyday people to participate in their own democracy. As Ari Berman has noted in recent days, Republican in four states who had their new election laws tossed out or altered – North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin – are continuing to use restrictive practices already outlawed by the courts in this election as we speak. No Republican leader of course has stood up to repudiate this shameful national strategy which to me is as gross a violation of democratic norms as anything Trump has done or said this year.
In the days ahead Republicans have been given an extraordinary opportunity to reaffirm their patriotism and support of our inspirational democratic tradition for all Americans to see. If they fail to seize it, we may witnessing one of the greatest betrayals of our democratic tradition by a political party in all of American history.
-Simon Rosenberg, NDN
Simon recently covered these topics in a major op-ed for US News & World Report, "Calling all Patriots".
Simon has signed up with US News and World Reportto write a column every Thursday or Friday through the end of the year. His first column, "How America Prospers in a Global Age," ran last week. His new column, "Calling all Patriots," argues it is time for Republicans to once again find their inner patriot and work with the Democrats to keep the Russians from intervening in our election, and to make it easier for Americans to vote.
The piece was well received yesterday when it was released. DNC Chair Donna Brazile for example tweeted it to her many followers. You can read the whole piece here, and we include an excerpt below. Check here and at US News each week for new insights from Simon.
In the past week, we've seen Republicans from across the country denounce Donald Trump for his vulgar remarks caught on tape by Access Hollywood. Some, like John McCain, have said the remarks were so disturbing that he was no longer capable of voting for the GOP presidential nominee this fall.
While in a reflective mood about the future, their nominee and party, I would like to suggest two other activities Republicans should swiftly denounce and distance themselves from – the national effort to make it harder for Americans to participate in their democracy, and the attempt by a foreign adversary to intervene in and disrupt our upcoming election.
First, the pernicious effort to make it harder for Americans to vote. In the aftermath of Barack Obama's historic win in 2008, Republicans in dozens of states took steps to make it harder for people to vote. Their efforts ran the gamut – making registration far more difficult, eliminating the use of student IDs for voting even at public universities, cutting early voting windows, radically reducing the number of polling locations in heavily Democratic areas and, of course, successfully gutting the Voting Rights Act. It has been an all-out, national, party-wide effort to make it harder for every day Americans to participate in their democracy, and it has affected tens of millions of people including in big states like North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.
In several states, courts have invalidated some of the more extreme measures. But what is perhaps most remarkable is how hard current GOP leaders are fighting court mandated changes in their laws. Election officials in Texas and Wisconsin have continued to follow practices declared illegal by courts in this current election. In North Carolina, a federal court recently invalidated their law, writing that it "targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision." Not deterred by being labeled racist, the Republicans of North Carolina, supported by Trump, appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. Gratefully the Supreme Court denied to hear the appeal and this awful law was struck down.
This renewed embrace of time worn voter suppression tactics is particularly worrisome given America's already low rate of voting. As I wrote in U.S. News earlier this year, low rates of voter participation weaken our democracy by limiting the actual amount of consent Americans are giving to their leaders. For a party so powerfully inspired by the Revolutionary call of "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death," it is hard to understand how they've ended up embracing systemic efforts by politicians making it harder for the American people to exercise their liberties and keep our historic political system vibrant and strong.
To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can also find more of Simon's USNews articles here.
Friends, the middle class has not been in decline for 40 years, nor have incomes been flat in America for the past 15. Over the past several months we’ve released a series of reports that show that things are far better today than much of what we’ve heard on the campaign trail this year, and that Americans themselves can feel it. In my new Op-Ed in US News (read here, excerpts below), I argue that since a new age of globalization began in 1989, America has seen periods of growth, lower annual deficits, booming stock markets and real income gains for workers – but only when the right policies have been put into place. There is a need for all of us to get closer to this data, find a better way to talk about the US economy and help reframe the economic conversation in the months and years ahead. The profound economic pessimism we’ve heard from many candidates these past two years neither accurately reflects the true experience of the American economy, nor the perception of American workers themselves. This is particularly true for Democrats, 78% of whom said economic conditions were good (in this same poll the # was 28% for Republicans – a 50 point difference).
For more on this discussion review the Op-Ed below, a series of recent pieces from NDN, and this excellent set of analyses and essays from Dr. Rob Shapiro.
"One of the more important questions in this long presidential election asks whether this new age of globalization has worked and is working for everyday Americans. We've heard many charges – decades of middle class decline, years of no income growth and lots and lots of anger at elites. Given how central this discussion has been to 2016, it deserves a closer look."
"Here at home the data suggests a more complicated picture than what we've heard on the campaign trail. While median income is only $3,000 higher today than in 1989, it has not moved on a straight line. As the graph below shows, it fell under President George H.W. Bush, rose steadily under President Bill Clinton, flatlined and then dropped under the second Bush, then declined as a result of the Great Recession and is now steadily rising again under President Barack Obama. By the end of this year incomes are likely to be 10 percent higher than they were at their recent nadir in 2012, and grew more in 2015 than in any single year of the modern era."
"Other economic data from this period follow similar trend lines – the annual deficit grew under both Bushes, and dramatically improved under Clinton and Obama. The unemployment rate rose under both Bushes, and fell during Clinton and Obama. The stock market had a modest rise under the first Bush, fell under the second and had explosive growth under Clinton and Obama. Three million net new jobs were created in the two Bush presidencies. Thirty million were created under Clinton and Obama."
"So a fairer characterization of this new global economic age isn't one of relentless decline; it is one that acknowledges workers have been able to prosper and make gains, but that two recessions – one the second worst in the past century – wiped out many of those gains. Or to put it another way, when the right policies and team were in place, Americans have been able to prosper in this new age. And the opposite has been true as well. So perhaps it isn't globalization or bad trade deals that have caused the struggle of far too many of late, but policies and leaders not capable of navigating a vastly changed economic, demographic, technological and geopolitical landscape."
"Which is why the choice Americans are about to make for their president matters. The last two presidents who argued for aggressive military action abroad and regressive economic policies at home brought us recession, income losses and larger annual deficits. Those who argued for investment at home, an embrace of this new global age and its opportunities and a restrained multilateralism abroad saw long, sustained periods of growth, lower annual deficits and rising incomes. We've tried this four times now since the wall fell, and we have real data to guide us going forward. Americans have prospered and succeeded in this new age, and can do so again – but only if we follow policies that look far more like Hillary Clinton's than Donald Trump's."
The next President faces consequential choices about what to do in the Middle East. Simple solutions have defied American leaders for generations now, and the American people deserve a full and robust discussion of the choices ahead in the final two Presidential debates.
It is particularly important given that it is reasonable to conclude from the remarks of the Donald Trump and Mike Pence in recent weeks that if elected they plan to go to war in both Iraq and Syria without much delay. “Safe zones,” “no fly zones,” striking Russian allied Syrian regime targets, wiping out ISIS can only be done with a dramatic escalation of military involvement in the region requiring ground troops, substantial air power and the holding of territory in foreign countries potentially against the will of regional governments. Whatever words they may be use what they are describing is America going to war not just in Iraq, again, but in Syria too.
Like George W. Bush before them, Trump and Pence offer no plans for the political settlements that will have to achieved to cement in place any military gains that may be made. It is all about war, and nothing about how we achieve a lasting and sustained peace in the region. It is this kind of tactical approach to the region that failed the United States so utterly in the Bush era. The hard fought gains in Iraq Mike Pence described last night weren’t lost due to America not continuing to wage war in Iraq, but due to the Bush Administration’s failure to craft a workable post-war approach to keep the peace. ISIS grew in Iraq from the failure of peace making, not war making. We cannot afford to make these elemental mistakes all over again but this time in two countries, not one.
Given how central these matters have become for America, those managing the final two debates must do a better job at allowing a sustained and intelligent conversation about how we got here, and where we need to go. I am no foreign policy expert, but what I am hearing from Trump and Pence is alarming, and deserves far more in-depth discussion in the days ahead.
Our long time collaborator Dr. Rob Shapiro has been busy this year. We've put together this compendium of his most important economic analyses for you to review. Rob has been a bit ahead of the curve (again) in calling the improvements in the US economy a true recovery, and was among the first to document that the era of flat wages and incomes has gratefully come to an end. (Updated Friday 10/14/16)
Obama's Expansion Is Finally Paying Off, Robert J. Shapiro, Sonecon, 10/13/16. American businesses have created net new jobs on a scale recalling the job creation rates of the 1980s and 1990s. In addition, the incomes of most American households grew again at rates that matched or exceeded the average for the 1980s and 1990s.
2016 Overview – Trump’s poor performance in the 1st debate, Clinton’s relatively strong showing, and his terrible week that has followed appear to created what may have become a decisive moment in the 2016 election. It will probably take another week or two to fully understand the impact this week has had, but early polling suggests dramatic movement in the race. Fresh out this morning is a Politico/Morning Consult track that now has Clinton up 6. It was plus one for Trump a week ago. 7 of the 8 polls that included the debate night in their polling have Clinton up 4 points or more, and in the new Huffington Post Pollster track she is now up 5 points, outside the margin of error. Even the Friday Fox News poll had it 49/44, with Clinton winning the debate by 61/21 (mon eve update - 10 of 11 polls have it 4 or more).
Other data points to a Democratic structural advantage emerging now. Dems lead the Congressional Generic, 45-41. Party favs/unfavs are 44/48 for the Ds, 31/58 for the Rs. Dems lead Party ID by 6, 37/31. Obama’s approval is holding near 2nd term highs, in the low to mid 50s depending on the poll. In the Huff Po data, he is now in positive territory on the economy, and we know from other data, there has been a sharp improvement in how the public sees the economy over the past few months in particular. Trump’s unsteadiness makes it unlikely for him to make gains if there is violent act of some kind before the election, and given how well the economy is doing, there just isn’t going to be a lot he can do to gain meaningful advantage here. If the new tax story starts to eat into his over performing numbers on economic stewardship, you could begin to see movement in the race towards the Democrats that could start to really impact down ballot races.
It is important to remember that Obama won by 7 and 4 points in his two campaigns. The electorate was going to be perhaps 2% points more Democratic this time, given the increase of minorities and Millennials since 2012. So a 4-6 point victory by Clinton was always the a possible outcome of this election assuming the GOP nominee could not break the demographic advantage Democrats have had of late. And we know that hasn’t happened in 2016 – in fact, the Democratic Presidential advantage may have actually increased this year. Trump is campaigning today in Arizona, a state Mitt Romney won by 9, that appears to be a true toss up today (see my recent piece on Dems expanding the map).
If the structure of the race is settling into a 4-6 point Democratic advantage, it will take a few weeks for us to see how/if this impacting the down ballot races, particularly Senate and House. Real Clear Politics has its Senate “no toss ups” map moving from 51/49 R to 50/50 this week – a sign that things have moved there a bit. Clinton’s new intense focus on Millennials and Hispanics, two groups with a lot of newer and thus more episodic voters, could have its biggest impact on close down ballot races who just don’t have the bandwith or expertise to reach these voters.
The Millennial opportunity for Democrats this cycle cannot be overstated. 20m new Millennials have entered the electorate since 2012. If even just half of them vote, and vote 2:1 Democratic (may be conservative), this is an additional 3.5m votes for Democrats. Obama’s margin of victory in 2012 was 5m votes. So this Millennial thing ain’t beanbag, and the Clinton campaign is right to be pouring energy and resources into this opportunity this cycle.
So, yes, lots of caveats - but early indications are this has been a potentially decisive week in the Presidential election.
Update 10/3 7pm - CBS's new poll has the race going from 42/42 to 45/41 for Clinton; new CNN/ORC has the race going from 45/43 Trump to 47/42 Clinton. Along with Morning Consult, these are swings of 7, 7 and 4 points. Game change!
You can find the full report in a PDF at the very end of this post. Below is an excerpt.
The questions of whether we are better off, and safer, are always central to our Presidential elections every four years, and this one is no exception. This report does a deep dive on publicly available data to see if we can answer those questions for this election in 2016.
As you will see from the following summary of the data and the many graphs that follow, our findings suggest Americans are indeed better off today, and safer, than they were when Barack Obama took office in 2009.
We also include portions of very recent polls that confirm that Americans are relatively content with the economic progress that has been made in recent years, and feel that things are getting better. These results are consistent with other recent polls showing President Obama hitting his highest job approval ratings of his second term; and they raise the question of whether this is really a “change election” after all.
This report builds on other recent work by NDN, including our recent economic report, "In A Global Age, Democrats Have Been Far Better for the US Economy, Deficits and Income," Simon's recent column, "On 2016: We Are Better Off Today" and an in-depth analysis, "America Is Better Off and Safer Today".
The US Is Better Off Today
Unemployment Rate – When President Obama came to office the unemployment rate 7.8%. Today it is 5.0%.
Jobs – During George W. Bush's Presidency, the American economy gained 135,000 jobs a year. Under President Obama it has been more than 1.3m a year.
Incomes – After dramatic increases during the Clinton Presidency, incomes fell under President Bush. Incomes have once again risen under President Obama, and preliminary 2016 data suggest that median income for American families will be the highest in recorded history at the close of 2016.
Uninsured Rate – The rate of those without health insurance has dramatically declined in the Obama years and now stands at the lowest level ever recorded, 8.6%. At least 20 million Americans have gained insurance in recent years.
Annual Deficit – When President Obama came to office the annual deficit was $1.4 trillion. Today it is $616 billion.
Stock Market – When President Obama came to office the Dow was at 7,494. Today it is around 18,000 and is repeatedly reaching record highs.
Americans Are Safer Today
The question of “are we safer” is a bit harder to get at than the question of “are we better off.” We choose to look measures that have been raised by Donald Trump himself this year (often erroneously). We fully acknowledge that there may be other legitimate data sets that could be added to this section to help paint a fuller picture.
Two things stood out in the section: by most measures, the Obama Presidency has experienced the lowest levels of crime and violence ever recorded; the large flows of undocumented immigrants into the US we witnessed during the Bush Presidency has not been replicated in the Obama years, and there are now fewer undocumented/unauthorized immigrants in the US than there were in 2008.
Crime Rate – During the Bush Presidency, the violent crime rate was 476 violent crimes per 100,000 people (average of each year). During Obama's Presidency the violent crime rate has been 387 incidents per 100,000 people.
Americans Killed By Terrorists – During the Bush Presidency, 3006 Americans were killed by terrorists, an average of 376 deaths per year. During the Obama Presidency, 91 Americans have been killed by terrorists, an average of 12 per year.
Police Killed In the Line of Duty – During the Bush Presidency, 437 police officers were killed in the line of duty, an average of 55 per year. During the Obama Presidency, 344 police officers have been killed in the line of duty, an average of 49 per year. The Obama Presidency has seen the fewest police officers killed on duty during any Presidency since records began to be kept in the early 1960s.
Flow of Unauthorized Immigrants into US – During the Bush Presidency, the US gained an average 400,000 net new unauthorized immigrants each year. During the Obama Presidency, the average yearly rate is below zero, as there are fewer unauthorized immigrants in the country today than when President Obama took office.
To prepare for tonight’s debate, I decided to think through Donald Trump’s promise to deliver 4% annual economic growth. First off, if this is Trump’s goal, then his program is as much a fraud as his foundation or university. If anything, his proposals would slow our already modest growth. To be sure, no one has a silver bullet to raise the economy’s underlying growth rate. But that doesn’t mean we’re helpless, and Hillary Clinton’s program will almost certainly raise that growth rate.
Four percent growth is not unprecedented. Under JFK and LBJ, the economy grew an average of 5.2% per year; and Bill Clinton produced 3.8 % average growth over eight years, including five years of 4% growth or more. But they were exceptions: Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter each managed 3.4% average annual growth; George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama each achieved 2% annual growth, and George W. Bush eked out just 1.6% annual growth. Moreover, the Federal Reserve forecasts that the U.S. economy will continue to grow an average of 2% annually for the next decade. This forecast and the record under Obama and Bush II all suggest that strong headwinds are hampering America’s economic growth.
By the arithmetic, economic growth measures how much more goods and services the economy has produced in one year, compared to the preceding year. That tells us that two key factors for higher growth are how many more people have jobs producing goods and services, and how productive, on average, everyone is producing those goods and services. By the arithmetic, strong growth rests substantially on increasing the number of people with jobs and the productivity of the entire workforce.
One reason for the disappointing growth of the last 15 years is that the number of net new workers each year slowed sharply. For that, blame the decline in U.S. fertility rates that began 20 years ago, rising rates of retirement by aging baby boomers, the slowdown in immigration sparked by the Great Recession, and steady erosion in the labor participation rate (LPR). All told, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the U.S. workforce is now growing .5% per year, down from 1.25% per year under Bill Clinton.
So, which candidate has proposed anything that would expand the number of Americans working? Both agree on spending more on infrastructure, but that will have modest effects on long-term growth. Beyond that, one striking feature of Trump’s immigration, healthcare and other proposals is their secondary effect of shrinking the number of people working in the U.S. economy.
To begin, Trump’s signature pledge to deport 8 to 11 million immigrants would reduce the workforce directly, for those caught and deported; and indirectly, by forcing millions to take cover outside the mainstream economy. Similarly, his promise to repeal Obamacare would increase the time that millions of Americans have to spend out of work for health reasons.
Nor should anyone believe that his $4.4 trillion to $5.7 trillion in tax cuts will somehow induce more people to work — that particular supply-side hokum is refuted by the rising labor participation rate (LPR) after Bill Clinton raised taxes, and the falling LPR after Bush II cut taxes.
By happy contrast, much of Hillary Clinton’s program would have secondary effects that increase the number of people in the labor force and working. Her path to legalization for immigrants will allow an additional eight million adult immigrants to participate fully and openly across the economy. Her plans to broadly expand access to child care and provide universal pre-K education would enable millions of parents to reenter the workforce or move from part-time to full-time jobs.
Moving along, her pledge to achieve universal healthcare coverage, once fulfilled, will lessen the number of people forced to stay home or even give up their jobs for health reasons. Her commitment to pay equity, once met, will encourage more women to enter the workforce or to increase their hours at work, as should her pledge to expand employment for 53 million American adults with disabilities. Finally, Hillary’s plans for expanding access to higher education will raise the labor participation rate, because that rate tends to rise with education.
The arithmetic of growth also depends on how fast productivity increases – and progress in productivity, which grew 2.8% per year in the later 1990s, has collapsed: From 2011 to 2015, productivity increased just 6% per year; and over the first half of this year, productivity actually fell at a rate of .6% per-year.
Three factors are mainly responsible. First, business investment in equipment and other technologies has slumped. In addition, the gap between the skills many workers have and the skills they need has widened. Finally, it appears that the development and use of new technologies, processes, and ways of organizing and running businesses — in a word, innovation — has slowed.
Here, too, Trump offers nothing. His huge tax cuts would balloon federal deficits, and so raise the cost for business borrowing to invest in new equipment and technologies. Trump also offers nothing to help workers improve their skills, and nothing to stimulate innovation and the broad use of new technologies.
By contrast again, Hillary’s agenda would actively promote progress in productivity. Her plans for tuition-free access to higher education will expand the skills of millions of young people, and her blueprint to reduce budget deficits will ensure that federal borrowing does not raise the cost for business borrowing to invest. Hillary also supports innovation by calling for expanded federal investments in basic R&D and promoting more public-private collaborations to commercialize that R&D. And since innovations often come from young enterprises, her program to expand bank lending for such companies is also well suited to promote innovation.
On economic growth, as on many other issues that will shape America over the next decade, Hillary delivers while Trump blusters.
This post was originally published on Dr. Shapiro's blog.