US President Donald Trump could indeed win the Nobel Peace Prize for the denuclearization agreement he signed in Singapore with the North Korean dictator. So I want to wade into the politics of the issue because this may play favorably for the Republicans in the upcoming mid-term elections. I don’t see a Blue Wave in November right now.
Republicans using Trump’s successes
I’m trying to look at this from a non-partisan perspective. And what I see with North Korea is success for Donald Trump. I think the summit was a big win for him. And he can legitimately say he has done more to promote peace through this action than former President Obama did to win his Nobel peace prize. Democrats may not want to concede this point. But I suspect it will be a big talking point for Republicans come November.
Moreover, the US economy is still doing remarkably well. The latest forecast for Q2 GDP growth in the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow tracker is 4.6%. Anything close to that number will mean 3% growth year-on-year. And again, Trump can legitimately claim that this is his growth, not Obama’s.
Trump will say that he has been in office for over a year and growth under his Presidency has been better than Obama’s. He will say unemployment is lower, particularly for African-Americans, reminding those voters that he told them they have “nothing to lose” by voting for him because they were doing so poorly under Obama. Now I don’t think Presidents impact the economy as much as the media sometimes implies they do. Nevertheless, the narrative is there. And for Trump’s Republican base, it will be effective.
Finally, there are the tax cuts. The tax cuts are heavily skewed toward businesses and the wealthy overall, particularly as some measures for individuals sunset over time. But the Republicans geared the tax cuts to hit everyone at the start. And these tax cuts are kicking in now, just as they are supposed to. That’s going to be a boost to the economy and a big talking point for Republicans
Democrats are mostly just anti-Trump right now
The Democrats, on the other hand, are hoping to generate a lot of enthusiasm by being against Trump. The only message I am hearing right now is “Stop Trump”. And because of Trump’s trade and immigration policies and many other social policies. That is likely to be a powerful message for some. If you look at the recent Supreme Court case to de-register non-voters in Ohio, these social issues could have a galvanizing effect for turnout for Democrats.
Now, one message that Democrats are using is anti-deficit messaging. The Democrats have explicitly said if they win, they will bring back pay-go, an anti-deficit pay as you go fiscal rule.
“Democrats are committed to pay-as-you-go,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Tuesday, affirming the policy would be a 2019 priority.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, is also endorsing the notion that a Democratic majority should adopt the budget-neutral rules next year.
“The pay-go rule is a good rule and we ought to reinstitute it,” Hoyer told The Hill last week.
How many votes is that going to win Democrats? Will it mobilize a larger voter turnout? I don’t know that it will.
If you look at the California primaries that just passed, they are a good testing ground. Trump actually won the popular vote if you take out California. The margin of Clinton’s win in California was so massive that it tipped the entire popular vote. Without California, Trump won by over 1 million votes. So you would expect Republicans to do especially poorly there. But in the last primary they did better than expected. Having said that, this CNN analysis says that the primaries showed huge potential gains for the Democrats. So we’ll have to wait and see.
After the debacle in Canada at the G-7, Trump has put on a statesman-like show that will burnish his foreign policy credentials. And the economic backdrop is good. What’s more, pay-go is not a good get-out-the-vote slogan for the midterms. So the Blue Wave that Democrats are talking about where they take over the House and the Senate may not come to pass.
With the Russia collusion issue still hanging over his presidency, at this point, the 2018 midterms looks likely to turn into a referendum on Donald J. Trump. But I am not at all convinced this will turn out negatively for Trump and the Republicans. The Peace Summit in Singapore is one big reason why.