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The economy, not Palestine, will undo Joe Biden

A growing economic divide is shattering the traditional Democratic coalition. Credit: Getty

May 11, 2024 - 1:00pm

This week’s surge in workers seeking unemployment benefits should be a sign that America’s already weakening economy, and much slower job growth, could prove the key to this year’s election. Indeed, one in four Americans fear losing their job in the next year.

These trends are widely ignored or dismissed by the Biden team, which blames poor polling on what it refers to as “vibescession”. The President certainly seems out of touch. In a recent interview, he dismissed concerns about persistent inflation, claiming people had “money to spend” and downplaying the 30% rise in prices since he took office.

To be sure some, notably Wall Street and well-paid Government workers, have benefitted. But for most middle- and working-class Americans in the private sector, things are not so rosy. Sectors that employ millions of these people — logistics, manufacturing, agriculture, technology — have been flat or even declined. Many of these workers operate in the “carbon economy”, which is threatened by Biden’s green tsunami. The President’s policies may offer a big win for renewable energy companies, lawyers and consultants who feast on this regulatory banquet. But they also constitute a direct threat to those dependent on reliable and low-cost energy such as truck drivers, loggers and oil workers.

These workers, along with small business owners, increasingly make up the base of the GOP. By contrast, professions such as librarians, teachers, environmentalists, and yoga instructors have become prominent pro-Biden constituencies.

This economic divide is shattering the traditional Democratic coalition. The party’s loss of white blue-collar workers has been well-documented; and in some critical places such as Pennsylvania, attacks on the state’s fracking boom are boosting support for Donald Trump. Many of the other swing states — Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona — where the President is currently trailing also have strong industrial economies threatened by Bidenomics.

The disquiet is now extending from the primarily white and older Trump base to other groups, such as minorities and young people. Take Latinos, who make up much of the nation’s blue-collar economy. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Latino workers account for approximately 20% of the transportation industry’s workforce, over 22% of all manufacturing workers, and a third of all construction workers. These workers are departing from their traditional Democratic allegiance, with Republican support among Hispanic voters growing by 10 points since 2018.

Perhaps even more threatening is the apparent erosion of Democratic support among voters under 35. Recent polling suggests that young people are shifting away from Biden, who won their votes easily in 2020, and towards Trump. Media accounts may link this to the Palestine crisis, but polling shows that young people rank virtually everything else as more important, including the economy. The keffiyeh constituency may be loud on elite college campuses, and celebrated by the national media, but basic economic concerns seem far more relevant.

Under Biden, young families face increasing difficulty buying a house, in large part because the President’s spending spree keeps interest rates higher. Even those with new college degrees face an increasingly unpromising job market. It’s easy, for example, to get a job at a restaurant or as a hotel clerk, but not so much in higher-wage professions.

As unappealing as the prospect of a second Trump term might be, the growing concern about economic opportunity could undermine Biden’s re-election — even if his advisers and the President himself seem blind to the realities. After all, many Americans look back fondly at the low interest rates, faster growth and low inflation of the pre-pandemic Trump years.

Perhaps focusing on the former president’s authoritarian instincts will save the day. Yet Biden’s economic mismanagement not only imperils his re-election, but in the longer term threatens to erode much of what was once his party’s base.


Joel Kotkin is the Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and author, most recently, of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (Encounter)

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UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
18 days ago

Red or blue
Its up to you !
No matter the quagmire
We got you

Government is in the sink
But look at our courtroom rinky dink
We will vax you and wax lyrical
About the election
But in the end
Money we dont have, we will spend

On green new deals and brave new wars
A new vaccine or a dodgy pill
Just get congress to pass the bill

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
18 days ago

When Carville famously said:
”It’s the economy, stupid.”
He was goddamn spot on.

El Uro
El Uro
18 days ago

Perhaps focusing on the former president’s authoritarian instincts will save the day
Did you read what you wrote?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
18 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

What part don’t you understand, champ?

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
18 days ago

The Federal Reserve Board increased M2 money supply by 40 percent in 2020-21. What did our lords and masters think was going to happen to prices? Google “M2 FRED” to take a look.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
17 days ago

The best analogy I read recently was that of Biden being a ‘progressive weather vane’ just blowing with the ‘progressive wind’. Biden doesn’t seem to have much going on upstairs and just has Jill pushing him out the door to another podium to make a fool of himself. It’s embarrassing for the USA for sure.

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
17 days ago

Tne inclusion of “yoga instructors” in major Biden constiuencies astounded me. If my yoga discipline contributed to Bidensity in any way i would have to take up armchair bluegrass. Does Kat Rosenfeld know about this?

Martin M
Martin M
14 days ago
Reply to  Don Lightband

Is “Bidensity” a real word?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
17 days ago

A cogent and dispassionately smart assessment. Well done.

Bernard Brothman
Bernard Brothman
17 days ago

What was once (Biden’s) party’s base has moved Republican – most of the blue collar working class and their families. What was once his opponent’s party’s base – higher income, higher educated, managerial and professional classes, have moved to the Democrats.
We thought the Democrats would get whupped in 2022 and they did fine given the Afghanistan disaster and higher inflation. There is always the abortion issue which drives many voters to the Democrats.
We have lawfare against former President Trump. While the Georgia and Florida cases are falling apart, the New York cases are keeping him off the campaign trail and forcing him to spend money and time sitting in a New York court room. I expect Trump to be convicted in New York and the media will make that the news rather than the economy. I expect Biden to be the most unpopular President to win re-election and have success down ballot. I hope I’m wrong.

William Brand
William Brand
17 days ago

The only reason that the Democrats have a chance to win is MAGA’S foolish choice of Trump as their candidate. Any other man with the same policies would be a guaranteed winner. Trump’s personal baggage may cost him the race especially if the Democrats switch out Biden at the convention for Obama or his wife. Obama seems to be planning to find legal loopholes in the Constitution’s 2 term rule. The usual method for term limited politicians is to run your wife. Will Michele Obama be an obedient puppet for her Husband or will she want to be the real president.

Martin M
Martin M
14 days ago
Reply to  William Brand

That is overlooking the fact that Trump is MAGA. What other politician could carry it off? Certainly not DeSantis. Trump may have his faults, but he has charisma and personality. DeSantis has neither.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
17 days ago

The former president’s authoritarian streak? It wasn’t Trump that pressured the social media companies to censure those that opposed the government’s health policies. It wasn’t Trump that wrote off hundreds of billions of dollars of student loans despite the Supreme Court ruling it was unconstitutional. It wasn’t Trump that gave us the highest inflation in 40 years.