By Bob Gatty.
Now that Donald Trump has been in office nearly two years, it’s fair to ask whether voters in “Trump’s America” are “winning” yet, as he repeatedly promised during his presidential election campaign.
The answer, according to this analysis published by The Washington Post (one of Trump’s favorite news outlets), is no. In fact, the data shows that counties that gave Donald Trump a plurality in 2016 are lagging behind counties that supported Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps that isn’t surprising since Trump drew strong support from regions in America that were hurting economically and Clinton’s base tended to be urban and suburban communities where education levels and corresponding household income were higher. Here’s an analysis from Pew Research.
But Trump repeatedly promised that those regions would “start winning again,” and to many, that meant they would be better off economically.
However, research by Anthony W. Orlando, assistant professor of finance, real estate and law at California State Polytechnic University, shows that Trump counties “continue to fall farther behind the rest of the country economically.”
A Case of Two Countries
Significantly, Orlando writes, “The story of our economy, like the story of our politics, continues to be a story of division and divergence.”
Orlando cites two other studies that reveal a widening gap in incomes, skills and wages between low-income and high-income regions began about 1980 and has continued.
“The wider the income gap grows between the regions… the harder it becomes for those in service and even blue-collar jobs to afford to live in high-income, high-rent places with high-quality amenities such as clean air, good schools, low crime, strong job markets, transportation infrastructure and retail stores,” Orlando writes.
So, as they are forced to leave such thriving communities, they move to areas where they are “surrounded by others who were also struggling, in areas that the better-off had fled,” he says. The result? A lower tax base and thereby fewer resources, fewer opportunities and economic segregation.
Not much has changed since the election, according to Orlando. The average Trump county has added 1.13 percent more jobs compared to 0.49 percent for Clinton counties as both regions have benefited from the positive economic growth that was initiated under President Obama and has continued under President Trump.
Orlando also measured housing price growth, and here, he says, the gap has widened in favor of counties that supported Clinton, indicating that the relative overall economic strength in those comparative regions.
Trump’s Attacks Continue
All of this is interesting considering that Trump continues policies and actions intended to appeal to his base – largely those Americans who are struggling and had hoped he would turn things around. He believes they appreciate his no-holds-barred approach and his willingness to confront anyone over anything, whether he’s right or wrong.
He continues his vitriolic attacks against the news media, which he’s cast as “the enemy of the people.”
He uses immigration as a scare tactic.
He demeans and bullies those who oppose him.
And he does this despite the fact that Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives on November 6, when Democrats also scored major victories in state governorships and state legislative races across the nation. Polls showed that many more people voted against Trump than those who voted for him.
Now, we will see if those Trump voters who hoped to “start winning again” feel the same way once the impact of the Trump/GOP tax cut of 2018 begins to really take effect. Already, it is clear that their children and grandchildren – like all other Americans – will be saddled with the horrendous debt caused by that tax cut, designed to largely benefit the top one percent.
Fortunately for them, Democrats took control of the House of Representatives – because had they not, major social programs upon which they rely – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – were started for the Republicans’ chopping block.
So who’s really winning? It certainly isn’t Trump’s America.