Trump using economic record to secure re-election – but is it that great?

Donald Trump is making it repeatedly clear what he sees as his big selling point heading into November’s presidential election.

It is of course that old cliche of American political discourse “the economy, stupid”.

The perceived wisdom is that an incumbent president will be re-elected if the economy is strong.

Samantha Jacobs has had to go to a food bank, despite working as a teaching assistant
Image:Samantha Jacobs has had to go to a food bank, despite working as a teaching assistant

Mr Trump’s message on that is loud and proud – people are prospering and they have him to thank. The Democrats who want to beat him say not everyone is winning.

Virginia has one of the highest levels of income inequality in America. Thousands of Virginians rely on food banks.

The church that runs the Rising Hopes Pantry in Alexandria says three quarters of the people who use it have jobs but low income wages just are not enough.

Samantha Jacobs, who works full time as a teaching assistant, said her salary is nowhere near enough to feed her family.

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She told Sky News: “The economy is not getting better for me – for working class people who work everyday to support our families.

“In order to sustain life the way I see fit for us – coming to the food pantry is necessary. My wages barely pay for us to live.”

‘We are on the path to defeating Trump’

From homes and businesses across the state – the view of the issue that could secure Mr Trump’s re-election is ambiguous.

Michael and Steve Poegl are brothers who work in the handyman industry. They have wildly differing ideas about Trump’s economy.

Steve says things are rosy and that is completely down to Mr Trump and the way he communicates.

“If you are a leader and people are looking to you and you show confidence which he does – if you exude that confidence – that will trickle down to the people who are listening because people are looking to you President Trump,” he said.

Michael, who owns the firm they both work for, says things are going well but not because of Mr Trump.

Brothers Steve (L) and Michael Poegl have opposing views over how well the economy is doing under Mr Trump
Image:Brothers Steve (L) and Michael Poegl have opposing views over how well the economy is doing under Mr Trump

He said: “I don’t feel that the tax benefits help me at all – actually, when I talk to my employees I don’t see where it helped them at all either.”

Steve likens Mr Trump’s policy of deregulation to tackling a “constricted artery”.

“President Trump is just trying to open it up and let the blood flow,” he said.

They do agree on the idea that Mr Trump’s economy is open to interpretation. “It just depends what you’re looking for,” Steve said.

Michael provides services for Gather – a work space company with five sites across the state.

Polly and Doug White are its owners and founders. They say the message they get from the growing number of businesses who use their space – is that times are good.

Mr Trump has created a different mood they said. “It’s optimistic – we all know the economy was growing under Obama – it was growing slowly but I don’t think people felt it,” Mrs White said.

“It’s also down to his policies,” added Mr White. “There’s the tax cut. There have been trade deals that have been renegotiated – there have been a number of things that are actually substantive but I believe the optimism is a critical factor.”

Mrs White thinks the economy will be the key to a second term.

“I think that if the economy keeps growing and nothing happens to sabotage it in the next six months – I think Trump has a good chance of winning again – because of the economy – people vote with their pocket books.”

Those books each tell different stores – but it seems most voters are in tune with Mr Trump’s booming message of prosperity – and he’s banking on it staying that way.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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