Obviously, midterm election coverage has gone into overdrive on Tuesday as America prepares to vote in what amounts to a referendum on Donald Trump’s divisive populist politics.
Unfortunately for Republicans, this isn’t really a referendum on Trump-o-nomics. The President reportedly scrapped an ad that focused on the jobs market in favor of anti-immigrant agitprop, prompting hilarious headline after hilarious headline, including this one, from The Daily Beast: “Trump Goes All In On Scaring You to Death in Sprint to Midterms“.
According to Politico, House Speaker Paul Ryan actually called Trump on Sunday to literally beg the President to focus on the economy and, implicitly, stop talking about the caravan “invasion.” But to no avail.
“Trump, unsurprisingly, had another issue on his mind”, Politico writes, adding that the President “boasted to Ryan that his focus on immigration has fired up the base.”
Yes, the caravan/George Soros story has “fired up the base”, and at a cost of “just” $220 million, which is what Trump’s troop deployment to the border is likely to cost before this spectacle is all said and done.
Trump’s flagship immigration ad is so racist, that it was pulled by Fox News on Monday. CNN, NBC and Facebook have also either refused to run the spot or yanked it. This, by the way, is “the base”:
“Trump has hijacked the election,” a senior House Republican aide told Politico, for the same article linked above. “[The immigration focus] is not what we expected the final weeks of the election to focus on”, the aide lamented.
To be sure, Trump’s economy is booming, and I guess we should go ahead and point that out one more time before the PMIs start rolling over in earnest. October’s payrolls report was yet another blockbuster, as the economy added 250k thousand jobs, while the unemployment rate stuck at a 48-year low.
Meanwhile, a quick look under the hood of the latest ECI report showed private sector wages and salaries rising at 3.1% YoY, the briskest pace since 2008.
It says something about somebody that Trump has decided to prioritize immigration over the economy, although I’m not sure who it reflects more on, the President, or his base. If it’s the latter, then the fact that Trump doesn’t feel compelled to emphasize the economy would appear to be a tacit admission that his base isn’t in fact benefiting all that much from the tight labor market.
By the time his whirlwind, national rally tour came to a close on Monday evening, a hoarse Trump was clearly exhausted and borderline delirious. His third rally on Monday found the President bragging on behalf of his base about boats he imagines they own.
In any event, a final check across polls shows a 7-8pp edge for Democrats on the generic ballot, while the share of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents who say they’re “certain” to go to the polls on Tuesday is up a hefty 11pp more than the same number for Republicans versus the 2014 midterms.
On Monday evening, Goldman cautioned that “the Democratic advantage in the 23rd through 26th seat averages less than 1pp, suggesting that from a bottom-up perspective the outlook for the House is fairly uncertain.”
Here’s a snapshot of the odds from FiveThirtyEight.
Finally, below is an hour-by-hour summary of what to watch from Goldman’s economics and politics team.