Looking past the media headlines?
Another reason why this political dog believes that Donald Trump IS a one term President as his support continues to slip away around the edges….
….if you look at the Trump-voting districts that flipped to Democrats in the 2018 midterms, it starts to look like the conventional wisdom is wrong. Contrary to the perception that a rebounding economy will work to the president’s benefit, there is growing evidence in Michigan and throughout the Rust Belt that metro areas that are bouncing back—and there are a bunch—are turning blue again. Indeed, communities that continue to flounder—and unfortunately there are still many of those, too—are likely to double down on Trumpism.
Why do I believe this? Just look at what’s happened to two of Michigan’s most crucial congressional districts, the 8th and the 11th , which voted for Trump and Republican congressmen in 2016 but swung back to the Democrats in the most recent cycle. There are a lot of factors at play in 2018—the unpopularity of Trump, the strength of female candidates like Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens, among other things—but one of the factors that didn’t get as much attention as it should is the economic trajectory of those communities.
The 8th District is made up of all of Livingston County, a once rural, now fast-growing string of white, bedroom communities on the cusp of the Ann Arbor and metro Detroit marketplaces. There, residents are on average 50 percent wealthier than elsewhere in the state. The district also has a big slice of the prosperous Detroit suburbs of Oakland County, and all of Ingham County which, while less prosperous overall, is home to the state capital and Michigan State University. From 2014 to 2017, the district’s median household income grew by nearly 12.6 percent; over the same period, the state average was 7.3 percent. The 11th District, a perennial Republican seat Stevens reclaimed for the Democrats, is anchored by three-quarters of Oakland County—including Troy, home to the largest share of immigrants of any community in Michigan—and parts of suburban Detroit. The 11th District’s economic picture over that same period, just like that of the 8th, is comfortably outperforming the state. No district that was below the statewide median income flipped—in either direction.
This pattern of economic prosperity and Democratic wins repeated itself in 2018 across the Midwest. Eight of the 13 districts that turned blue in Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Iowa have income growth rates that exceed their state averages. Those districts fall within the orbits of thriving metro areas like Minneapolis, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Des Moines. Median household incomes in those eight districts exceed the statewide median incomes by a range of 2 to 62 percentage points. And of the five “flippers” doing worse than their state income average, three were in Pennsylvania, where an end to partisan gerrymandering is the more likely explanation for the switch.
So what explains this correlation between economic vitality and the blue wave?….