As Super Tuesday approaches, Texas Standard is taking time to examine what issues might be on Texans’ minds when they cast ballots this year. From employment, to business, we wondered how voters are thinking about the economy now compared to in 2016.
Paul Kellstedt is professor of political science at Texas A&M University. He says the economy is less of a determining factor in who wins elections that it once was.
“Voters who are judging the economy are increasingly viewing the economy through their own partisan lenses,” Kellstedt says.
If a president of one’s preferred party is in power, a voter is likely to have positive feelings about the economy. The reverse is true if a president from the opposite party is in office, regardless of actual economic indicators.
During the Reagan and Clinton administrations, when the U.S. was doing well, even those who didn’t support the current president agreed that the economy was healthy.
Kellstedt says President Donald Trump’s claims that the economy is doing well are sometimes accurate, some times not.
“Unemployment among the African American community, and among young people, is really at historic lows,” Kellstedt says. “Those are undeniably good things. Some of the things Democrats point out is that maybe President Trump doesn’t deserve credit for these things and that they were trends that began under the previous administration, and have just continued into the current one.”
Kellstedt says that while many economic indicators are on the upswing, the U.S. faces historic levels of income inequality.
“There a lot of people who have anxiety about what a catastrophic medical bill might do for their family,” he says.
Kellstedt says the current slump in oil and gas prices is a good thing for consumers and businesses who rely on fossil fuels. But it has slowed the booming energy economy in Texas.
“We do a lot of driving in Texas, and a lot of commuting, and our commutes are not quite as expensive because we’re paying $2.15 for a gallon of gas,” Kellstedt says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.