President Donald Trump’s re-election team today, as the presidential election campaign enters its final phase, pounced on the record-breaking GDP figures, but one expert warned that the data “may not move the needle long before election day.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis revealed on Thursday morning that the U.S. economy grew a massive 33 percent on an annualized basis in the third quarter of this year, after slumping 31.4 percent in the second quarter due to COVID-19 shutdown measures.
In the three months between July and September, GDP also rose 7.4 percent quarter-on-quarter, after falling 9 percent and 1.3 percent in the second and first quarters, respectively.
However, despite record annual growth of 33 percent, the US economy was still considered to be 3.5 percent lower than at the end of 2019.
However, this did not stop Republican campaigners from using the data as an argument for Trump’s re-election to complete the gradual economic recovery in the U.S. following the coronavirus crash triggered in March.
“The U.S. economy grew by a historic record 33.1% in Q3 2020,” twittered Andrew Clark, Trump’s Rapid Response Director. “President Trump has put the US back on the road to economic recovery!
Republican party leader Ronna McDaniel also called on voters to support Trump for a second term in the White House and, according to the data release, “to continue to drive this recovery.
“GDP growth of 33.1% (!!!!) (the best ever!) should end any argument about an economic recovery led by Trump,” said Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter. “Donald Trump is restoring the pre-Covid economy that Americans loved! As @POTUS says… The best is yet to come! #4MoreYears”
Although it is not immediately clear what impact third quarter GDP figures may have on the election, past polls have shown that Trump’s approval ratings are the strongest for the economy.
A survey of prospective voters conducted by CNN and SSRS earlier this week showed that a 51 percent majority of voters believed that the President would be better at managing the economy than Biden. Another poll released today by Suffolk University showed that Trump had a net approval rating of 3 percent for his handling of the economy.
While the latest GDP data released today may push these numbers higher, Thomas Gift, founding director of the Center on U.S. Politics at University College London, argued that record third quarter growth may have little impact on the final election results.
“In the best case, economic health indicators will still remain far below what they were before the pandemic,” Gift told Tekk.tv prior to the data release. “An economy in recovery is always a good omen for the incumbent, but it must be seen in the context of the historically poor second quarter data and the fact that the economy is still facing rocky shores.
The professor added that Trump will also find it “difficult” to ask voters if they are better today than four years ago and expect them to say “yes” as the economy continues to recover from a historic downturn.
“It is important to point out that there are very few voters left. Not only have tens of millions of Americans already voted early, most polls show that there are significantly fewer undecideds this year compared to 2016,” Gift added. “This means that, regardless of the third quarter’s economic data, good news or bad news could not move the needle much in the election,” continued Gift.
At the time of writing, Trump is 9 points behind his democratic rival in the presidential FiveThirtyEight polls, with an average of just under 43 percent of voters backing him.