Republicans believe the economy is bad, when the numbers show that it’s not 


We’ve all heard the tired phrase from the 1992 presidential campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid.”   

Back then, it was James Carville laying the groundwork for how Bill Clinton would go on to unseat then-President George H.W. Bush.  

Ross Perot had his charts and Bush had his international victories in Kuwait and the Middle East, but the economy wasn’t good, Carville said.   

The country was in a recession. Unemployment was high. White-collar workers’ jobs were at risk. Production was down.  

By historical standards, the recession was mild. But it wasn’t until December 1992 that economists bookended the mini-recession as having occurred between July 1990 and March 1991.  

That’s right, for the entire year of 1992, the United States wasn’t in a recession at all, but voters felt as if they were in one. That’s all that mattered.  

Bush was fingered for running the economy into the ground. Unemployment was hovering around 7.5 percent all year.   

Bush lost. Clinton won.  

Today’s history lesson sets the stage for today’s message: A person’s truth is a person’s reality.  

By the numbers, the U.S. economy isn’t bad.  

The unemployment rate hasn’t crested over 4% in nearly two and a half years. The inflation rate hasn’t been above 4% in a year.  

The gross domestic product has been up seven straight quarters and 13 of the last 15. The COVID-19 recession? That ended three years ago.  

Sure, the housing market is hot. Good, affordable housing is tough to find. But none of the traditional economic indicators show a crappy economy or that one is coming soon.  

Don’t take my word for it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau have all this data handy if you’re interested in a five-minute Google search.  

Most aren’t. For them, the economy is what they want it to be.  

A person’s truth is a person’s reality.  

The Glengariff Group released data this week through the Detroit Regional Chamber that showed that nearly a quarter of voters (23.5%) believe the country’s inflation rate is higher than 8%. A 59% majority believe inflation is over 4%, when it is not.  

Only 23.8% correctly pinned it as being between 2% and 4%.  

Another 61.1% believe the economy is weakening or we’re in a recession. In fact, we are not, nor is there conclusive data to show a recession is around the corner.  

Unfortunately, there’s a link between a person’s political leanings and their perceptions on the economy, according to the Glengariff data.  

A startling 90.5% of Republicans believe the economy is weakening. By comparison, Democrats, by a 2 to 1 margin, believe the economy in May 2024 is growing, not weakening.  

Maybe Republicans are experiencing something different than Democrats? Maybe today’s economy isn’t working for them.  

To that, here’s a new stat: Only 14.3% say they are concerned about losing their current job. In November, that number was higher, 20.9%.  

Here’s another one, only 21.4% of people say they’ve personally had trouble finding a job. That’s down a tick or two from November’s percentage of 23.9%.  

Are Republicans having trouble finding a job?  

Again, the polling numbers would say no. The demographic having the hardest time finding a job tend to be young, Black urbanites, who — by and large — are Democrats to the extent they vote at all.  

Then it must be inflation, right?   

Well … not really.   

The final Glengariff number I’ll share has a 38.1% plurality of voters believe inflation is getting worse. That’s more than May 2023 (26.1%) or May 2022 (28%).  

In June 2022, U.S. inflation hit 9.0%, a 40-year high. We’re at around 3.4% this May.  

Inflation isn’t on the verge of hitting 9.0 next month.  Most people aren’t hurting for jobs.  

We do have an election in 160 days.  

The numbers would show the Republicans want to make their truth the reality. 

(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS at 




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