Friday morning, the Labor Department reported that a better-than-expected 223,000 jobs were created in May, and unemployment fell to 3.8%, tying the record low set in 1969, nearly half a century ago. Perhaps most significant for people already working was the news that wages grew 2.7% in May, compared to last year. Stagnant wages have held down lower and middle class workers for years. Combined with the recent tax cut (which helped contribute to raises for many workers), Americans are finally seeing some real growth in their paychecks.
This is a large part of the reason why that fabled “blue wave” is looking more like a ripple in a kiddie pool these days. The Democrats have built their hopes for regaining power on putting together a 50%-plus-sized collection of identity groups, but they may discover to their shock that people base their voting decisions on things other than their race or gender. Like, “How safe is my family” or “Am I having to work three jobs to make a living?” If even a small percentage of African-American or Latino voters stop responding to the “Don’t listen to those guys, they’re racists!” tactic, the left would be in big trouble. And there are growing signs of cracks in the solid wall of minority support for Democrats.
I know how hard it is to cut through the media-reinforced stereotypes because when I became Governor of Arkansas, I made it a point to reach out to the African-American community and was met with suspicion and resistance at first. But eventually, black community leaders realized I was sincere, and we worked together to make things better. I eventually received a record level of black support for a Republican, but I had to earn it. Trump and the Congressional Republicans may be starting to earn at least a look, as minority voters notice that jobs are more plentiful and their paychecks are bigger now.
Even Democratic pollster John Zogby is warning the party that despite Trump’s high disapproval rating (which is actually improving; pretty amazing considering the non-stop media bashing he gets for everything he does), he may be very hard to beat in 2020.
Zogby points out that a new Harvard University/Harris Poll found over two/thirds of Americans (68%) say the economy is strong, with only 32% saying it’s weak. Those who believe it’s strong include 76% of men, 61% of women, and (here’s the part that will make Nancy Pelosi reach for the Rolaids) 58% of Hispanics and African-Americans. She may be washing those Rolaids down with Pepto-Bismol when she hears that only 25% of Americans say they’re doing worse under Trump, while those who say they’re better off include 30% of Hispanics and 33% of African-Americans. Losing a third of those two voting blocs would not represent “crumbs” for the Democrats but the crumbling of their hopes of retaking Congress.