Updated Jun 8, 2018

Wave watch: It's Trump vs. the economy

Data: Historical changes in House seats from the American Presidency Project, approval ratings from FiveThirtyEight, and views of the economy from AGC Research LLC. Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Here's why it's so hard to predict whether Republicans will actually lose the House in November: It depends whether the election turns on President Trump's low approval ratings or the booming economy.

Between the lines: As this interactive graphic shows, the party in power tends to do well in the House during midterm elections when voters are happy with the economy, but it does poorly when the president's approval rating is low. There's no recent precedent in which the economy is doing well but the president's approval rating is underwater.

What they're saying: I asked Darrell West of the Brookings Institution his thoughts on these trends:

  • “Generally, it’s been 'the economy, stupid,' that’s been the major issue. But this year it could be, 'It’s Trump, stupid.' Because Trump just dominates everything. He dominates news coverage, he dominates social media activities. He’s a very inviting target for Democrats.”
  • “Generally, there’s a strong tie between the state of the economy and presidential approval ratings, but it's not true in regard to Trump because many people simply don’t like him personally."

The bottom line: Anyone who talks about the election as if it's only about Trump, or only about the economy, is only telling you half the story. We won't really know what's going to happen with the House until we know which half matters the most to the voters.

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Bloomberg unveils Trump-focused economic agenda

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg released Wednesday an economic agenda that focuses heavily on helping "the people and communities that have been short-changed by President Trump," per the plan's details, by creating jobs and increasing wages.

Why it matters: It's no secret Trump wants to run his re-election campaign on the economy, but Bloomberg is tapping into a conversation we're hearing from voters all across the country, whether in our focus groups or on the campaign trail: wages aren't keeping up and Trump isn't talking about that.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020

Focus group: Pennsylvania swing voters unhappy with McConnell's impeachment comments

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's public comment that he will not be an "impartial juror" in President Trump's Senate trial has alienated some swing voters here — even though they support Trump and are fed up with impeachment.

Why it matters: These voters told us they think all 100 senators on both sides of the aisle have a responsibility to be impartial under the Constitution. (Their oath requires them to promise "impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.")

Go deeperArrowJan 13, 2020

U.S. economy adds 145,000 jobs in final report of 2019

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December, the government said on Friday, below economists’ expectations of 160,000. The unemployment rate held at 3.5% — a 50-year low — while wages grew 2.9% from a year earlier, the smallest gain since July 2018.

Why it matters: The U.S. job market held up in the final month of 2019, but heads into the election year with a slowing pace of job creation and wage growth.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020