In Tribal America, Power Trumps Economics

Republicans feel better about the economy now that their party is in power.

American president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017
American president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Immediately after Donald Trump’s election in late 2016, Republican voters in the United States changed their mind about the economy. Whereas only 16 percent said the economy was improving under Barack Obama, 49 percent felt that way once Trump had won the election.

Gallup finds the same is true at the state level. Deep-red Montana and Wyoming have switched from least to most optimistic. California, Hawaii, Maryland and Rhode Island — four of the most Democratic states in the country — were among the top states in 2016. Now they rank below average.

Divorced from reality

These figures are divorced from reality. The national economy is doing about as well as it was under Obama. Trump country — Appalachia, the Rust Belt, the South — is still poorer than the Democratic-run Northeast and West Coast.

The only thing that has changed is who is in power. And that’s what this is about: Republicans feel better now that their party controls Washington DC, just as Democrats feel worse.