By Justin Haskins
As Democrats frantically and feverishly work to convince the public Donald Trump deserves to be impeached, America’s economy continues to make remarkable progress.
Asians, African Americans, Hispanics, and women all enjoyed historically low unemployment in 2019, and with a significant chunk of the U.S.-China trade war now in the rearview mirror, it seems unlikely the United States’ low unemployment trend will falter prior to November.
This presents an important problem for Democrats. Whatever you happen to think about Trump’s phone calls with heads of state, late-night Twitter rants, or any number of other factors, history has proven repeatedly that when it comes to presidential elections, the one thing that matters above all else is job growth. And as badly as so many on the left would love to see a recession strike just in time for Election Day, at present, America’s job numbers are stellar, which suggests strongly that President Trump will win a second term.
In fact, an examination of modern American history shows quite clearly that incumbent presidents usually win a second term, and when they do lose, it’s usually during or immediately after a period of economic decline. In fact, over the past several decades, no sitting president has ever lost an election while presiding over a well-performing economy.
But even these considerations don’t fully capture just how big the massive hill is that Democrats will have to climb as the presidential race accelerates.
As Hillary Clinton knows well, Democrats can’t win in 2020 by convincing a majority of American voters that Trump doesn’t deserve a second term; they must convince the majority of voters in key parts of the country, especially the Midwest.
Like in 2016, 2020 will be decided in large part by swing states like Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—not San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. And in these vital states, there are important economic indicators that will make it even more difficult for Democrats—regardless of who their nominee is—to defeat Trump.
The most important of these indicators is likely manufacturing jobs. After years of suffering under poor policy decisions imposed by leaders in both the Republican and Democratic parties, decisions that led to millions of lost manufacturing jobs, Midwesterners have enjoyed under the leadership of the Trump administration an unprecedented and mostly unexpected manufacturing jobs boom.
The most recently available jobs data show since January 2017, Trump’s first month in office, more than 480,000 manufacturing jobs have been added, substantially more than anything achieved by the Obama or Bush administrations, both whom watched as huge numbers of manufacturing jobs left the country. Trump’s half-a-million manufacturing jobs gain is the largest increase, in terms of percentage of manufacturing jobs gained, since the 1970s.
Some of the state-specific data are even worse for Democrats. In Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Trump’s first-term manufacturing job figures have far surpassed those recorded under the Obama administration.
The most stunning turnaround occurred in Pennsylvania, where nearly 23,000 manufacturing jobs have been added since Trump entered the White House. About 6,000 of those jobs were added in the first six months of 2019, the most recent data available.
Under President Obama, Pennsylvania lost 45,000 jobs in manufacturing, and some of those losses occurred in his second term, completely unrelated to the 2008 financial crisis.
If Trump wins in Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin—never mind all three—then it’s going to be extremely tough for Democrats to beat him.
This political reality makes Democrats’ commitment to absurd far-left policies like the jobs-killing Green New Deal, government takeover of the entire health care system, and their wildly expensive “free” college proposals particularly bewildering. These are not popular plans in the Midwest, and they will very likely be sold by Republicans—and rightfully so—as proposals that would inflict an immense amount of economic harm on the region.
This is especially true in the case of the Green New Deal’s plan to end all oil and natural gas development and replace it with more expensive wind and solar energy. Lots of folks in the Midwest work for industries directly related to oil and gas, and many more work in the energy-intensive manufacturing industry, which would almost certainly be forced to cut jobs if energy prices were to increase substantially.
Of course, despite their many claims to the contrary, those Democrats still running to be their party’s presidential nominee aren’t concerned with what communities in the Midwest want or need. That ship sailed long ago, and perhaps with it, Democrats’ opportunity to beat Trump.
Justin Haskins (Jhaskins@heartland.org) is the editorial director and a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.
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