Now That U.S. Economy Is Booming, Dems Say It’s Not a Key Policy Priority

jobs rise
AP/Alan Diaz

A telling new survey by the Pew Research Center reveals that Democrats who considered the economy a top priority under the Obama administration have changed their tune now that the economy has taken off under Trump.

The results of the survey are stark. In 2013, an overwhelming majority of the Democratic party (87 percent) said that strengthening the economy was a top priority, whereas today just 64 percent of Democrats say they consider the economy a key issue.

Something similar has occurred in Democrats’ appreciation for the importance of jobs. In 2013, 81 percent of Democrats said they viewed improving the nation’s job situation as a top policy goal, while today just 58 percent of Democrats say this.

Since Mr. Trump took office, the U.S. stock market has continually broken records, the unemployment rate has sunk to 4.1 percent, GDP growth has accelerated while business confidence is soaring. While the credit for this impressive economic scenario cannot all be given to the president, the two are not unrelated either.

Taking the place of the economy and employment among Democrats’ top priorities are global warming and environmental protection. Today, 68 percent of Democrats and those leaning Democratic say that addressing climate change should be a top priority for Trump and Congress, Pew found. By contrast, a scant 18 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners say it is a top priority.

A sizable majority of Democrats (81 percent) say protecting the environment should be a top priority for the president and Congress, while less than half as many Republicans (37 percent) agree. Significantly, the share of Democrats saying this has risen a remarkable nine points in the past year alone. In June, President Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

One plausible explanation behind the shifting views of Democrats is that Trump is effectively driving Democrats’ priorities. Their hatred of him is so strong that areas where he shows greatest success become unimportant issues for Democrats, while areas where the president is perceived as weak or ineffective become critical.

After all, during the same period (2013 to the present), Republicans’ views on the urgency of attention to the economy also changed, though not nearly so dramatically. In 2013, 87 percent of Republicans said the economy was a top priority—the exact same percentage as among Democrats. Today, 78 percent of Republicans view the economy as a key goal, a real drop (9 percentage points) but less than half the drop (23 percentage points) experienced by Democrats.

So, either the present economic boom has so completely convinced Democrats that attention to the economy is no longer a key priority (far more than Republicans), or some other factor is in play. It isn’t too difficult to figure out what.

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