Parts of America Are Still Struggling Economically. They Don’t Matter Much in the Midterms. – New York Times

“I see a lot of people who, if they vote with their pocketbook, and they’ve maybe sided with Republicans because of that, they’re taking another look” this year, said Mike Levin, the Democratic candidate in California’s 49th District, which includes a strip of coastline running from north of San Diego to the southern suburbs of Los Angeles. “Today, I feel like, to the extent we’ve seen gains, we’re on a sugar high. And I have young kids — I know a lot about that.”

It is possible, of course, that Republicans in tight races would be in even worse shape were it not for the strong economy. An analysis of polling data suggests Republican candidates are performing modestly better, relative to expectations based on their performances in past elections, in districts where the unemployment rate is lower or has fallen faster than in other districts.

On a national level, the economy may be helping lift Mr. Trump’s approval ratings, which, if historical patterns hold, could help Republicans avoid steeper losses in the midterm elections.

But those effects are not nearly large enough to help Republicans avoid costly and contentious races in some of the most vibrant parts of the country, particularly in suburbs of high-performing metropolitan areas.

“Those are the places where the president is the most toxic, outside of urban areas,” said Amy Walter, the national political editor of the Cook Report. “It’s not about their pocketbook. It’s about partisanship, and it’s also about cultural issues.”

Moreover, many swing voters appear skeptical of Republican claims on the economy. Surveys have consistently found that independent voters are less sanguine about the economy than Republicans, and Mr. Trump’s signature economic policies, such as last year’s tax cut, poll poorly with that group. And women — including the suburban white women who are the target of recent Republican ads — report feeling significantly less positive about the economy than men, according to a recent survey conducted for The Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey.

Parts of America Are Still Struggling Economically. They Don’t Matter Much in the Midterms. – New York Times

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