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Finley: In booming times, Dems sell misery

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Democrats aren’t going to defeat Donald Trump by talking only to the 12%.

That’s the percentage of Americans who are buying into the Democratic message that the deck is stacked against them, their personal trajectory is plunging and the economy is structured to benefit only the rich and powerful.

That’s not the reality a majority of Americans are experiencing. A new Gallup poll finds surging optimism in the country, with the belief that this is the strongest economy since the dotcom boom of the late 1990s.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the Brown & Black Forum at the Iowa Events Center, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.

The key questions to voters in any election campaign — Are you better off today?  Do you expect to be better off tomorrow? — are both being answered with a resounding yes.

To the first query, 59% said yes, their personal condition has improved, the highest number since 1999.  And to the second, nearly 75% are convinced they'll do even better next year.

Just 12% are sure their financial future will become bleaker over the next 12 months.

An earlier Gallup survey found that 90% of Americans are satisfied with their personal lives, also a record mark.

Yet the Democratic presidential candidates are focusing their efforts to topple President Trump on convincing voters they’re not really as economically content as they think they are. Despite their sense of well-being, Democrats insist the cure for the misery they should feel is a massive expansion of government or, in the case of front-runner Bernie Sanders, a revolution.

Happy people don’t revolt. And they get nervous about change they fear would rock a stable boat.

That explains why after months of an impeachment campaign that attempted to paint Trump as a criminal, the president is at peak popularity.

Post-impeachment, Gallup measured the president’s approval rating at 49%, the same as his disapproval number. The Hill also reported a 49% approval rating, with 51% disapproving, while Rasmussen had Trump above water at 50-48. These are the best set of marks of his tenure.

An impeachment process designed solely to destroy Trump’s reelection chances was a bust for Democrats.

Of all the indicators of how November’s election will go, perhaps the most significant is that 56% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, against 39% who disapprove.

Absent some greater worry — national security, for example — voters almost always vote their pocketbooks.

The strong economy and satisfied populace should make Trump’s reelection guaranteed. He’s vulnerable, though, because a large percentage of voters are disgusted with his divisiveness and boorish behavior and are worried about his instability.

Focusing on Trump’s character flaws, while pledging to stay the positive economic course, is a better strategy for Democrats than trash-talking a Trump economy that is making life better for Americans across the spectrum.

Trying to gin up a class war and constantly bleating about a fast-shrinking income gap will fail as badly as did the impeachment farce. People know, as the Gallup poll makes obvious, when they are better off.

Instead, the winning message for Democrats on the economy is: “We’ll do exactly what Trump has done, but without the crazy.”

Catch Nolan Finley on “One Detroit” at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on Detroit Public Television.