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Half of all voters in the 10 states that voted for Trump but have Democratic senators say the economy is better off now than it was a year ago, according to new Axios/SurveyMonkey polls. And in nine of the states majorities approve of the GOP tax law.

Expand chart
Data: SurveyMonkey polls conducted February 12-March 5, 2018Poll Methodology, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Note: December 2016 and 2017 state unemployment values used; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why it matters: Economic optimism underscores the challenges faced by Democrats as they try to take back the House and Senate. As we wrote yesterday, five Senate Democrats would lose to Republican candidates if the election were held now —Democrats need to pick up two seats to regain the majority.

Our thought bubble on the economy from Axios Business Editor Dan Primack: Democrats are stuck. They spent the Obama years yelling about how the economy was doing well, while Republicans closed their eyes and jammed their fingers in their ears. Now that Republicans have decided it's safe to see the obvious, the Democrats either must agree that the economy is growing under Trump or look like hypocrites. Yeah, the GOP is also being hypocritical, but its current position is the factually correct one.

But, but, but... Americans were far more split on their economic expectations for the future, according to a recent AP poll, :

  • 34% said the economy will get better, 32% said it would say the same and 33% expected it to get worse
Expand chart
Data: SurveyMonkey polls conducted February 12-March 5, 2018Poll Methodology; Note: "Disapprove" and "Approve" include "Somewhat" and "Strongly" responses; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Despite the approval rating of the tax bill, more than half of voters in each state didn't think they would personally benefit from the tax law.

Behind the numbers:

  • West Virginia and Montana are two of the most optimistic states about the economy being better than it was a year ago. Sens. Tester and Manchin are the two of the most vulnerable Democrats according to our poll.
  • Republicans will certainly use approval of the GOP tax plan while campaigning, and that could really hurt Democrats considering not a single one voted for the bill.

Methodology: These SurveyMonkey/Axios online polls were conducted February 12- March 5, 2018 among a total sample of 17,289 registered voters living in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia, Montana, North Dakota.

Go deeper

29 mins ago - Health

Treasury begins dispersing $350 billion in COVID relief funding to states and localities

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury on Monday began giving state and local governments access to $350 billion in emergency funding from the American Rescue Plan, the department announced Monday.

Why it matters: Though the money is aimed at helping state, local, territorial and tribal governments recover from the pandemic's economic fallout, the administration will generally give them wide latitude on how they can use the funds.

Game developers break silence around salaries

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Developers are sharing their salaries on Twitter under the hashtag #GameDevPaidMe to encourage pay transparency in their industry.

The big picture: The hashtag started circulating last year, but has returned periodically as developers fight for better working conditions. Salary sharing is a way to equalize the field. By removing the secrecy, as well as the stigma, around discussing pay, workers have more power to advocate for themselves when negotiating salaries and raises.

56 mins ago - World

Jerusalem crisis: Hamas fires rockets, Israel begins military campaign

Palestinian protesters and an Israeli police officer near the Damascus Gate. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Days of tensions in Jerusalem escalated into an exchange of fire on Monday, as Hamas fired dozens of rockets toward Israel and the Israeli military responded with strikes of its own and said it was preparing for a military operation that could last several days.

Why it matters: This is the first time Hamas has fired rockets at Jerusalem since 2014, and the most serious escalation between the Israelis and Palestinians in many months. It comes during the most sensitive days on the calendar — the last days of Ramadan and the Jerusalem Day commemoration on Monday — and amid political crises in both countries.