Here are two scenarios. One: you are a retiree who in recent years has been concerned about the value of your stock portfolio. Suddenly, the value of your stocks and stock-based mutual funds surges, the Dow rising 1,000 points to record highs within weeks.
You examine the monthly report your broker sends and you are pleasantly surprised at how much your investments have earned since Donald Trump took office.
Scenario Two: You are reading and watching the news and all you see are stories about meetings between Trump campaign officials and the Russians, who have been accused of tampering with the election, though, according to The New York Times, law enforcement officials have said that none of the investigations “so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.”
The media are obsessed with the Trump campaign’s alleged Russian connections, because, as their “reporting” and punditry has shown, they are no fans of President Trump.
If you are a retiree, or approaching retirement, which scenario most affects you? Do you care more about the Russians, or your increasing net worth? I thought so.
While some polls can be manipulated to produce outcomes based on the bias of the pollsters, this one by CNBC seems to reflect what the stock market is telling us. According to the financial network’s All-America Economic Survey for the fourth quarter, “the percentage of Americans who believe the economy will get better in the next year jumped an unprecedented 17 points to 42 percent, compared with before the election.”
Even more remarkable, the poll notes, “The surge was powered by Republicans and independents reversing their outlooks. Republicans swung from deeply pessimistic, with just 15 percent saying the economy would improve in the next year, to strongly optimistic, with 74 percent believing in an economic upswing.”
Of greatest interest for Republicans is the poll’s finding that optimism among independents doubled, though Democrat optimism declined by more than half. Maybe that has more to do with their failure to elect Hillary Clinton than the realities of the stock market, because one can presume their portfolios are doing well, too.
A Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll found that as of last Friday “52 percent of likely U.S. voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. 48 percent disapprove.” Those numbers are likely to improve if the economy continues its upward swing and some of Mr. Trump’s promises are fulfilled, producing advertised results. Success is not only the best revenge; it is the best policy.
A recent Gallup poll put Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 43 percent with 50 percent disapproving of his job performance. In light of the incessantly negative media onslaught against Mr. Trump, it is amazing he is doing as well as he is with the public.
Outside the Beltway and inside the few remaining Democratic strongholds, I suspect there is less concern about Russia and meetings between then-Sen. Jeff Sessions before he became attorney general and the Russian ambassador than how people think they are doing. “It’s the economy stupid,” reminded James Carville, campaign strategist for Bill Clinton. Remember?
The focus on Russia and “scandal” is the kind of petty politics that soured enough people in traditionally Democratic states to vote for Mr. Trump. They are tired of the games politicians play and want their government to work for them, not for the politicians and insiders.
If the Trump administration finishes its first year in office with demonstrable results, including a continually improving economy, the left will have nothing remaining in its bag of tricks, and that will make Democrats look even weaker and ineffective heading into the 2018 elections.
• Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist. His latest book is “What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America” (Zondervan, 2014).
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