On June 29, 2020, I urged people Don’t fall for Operation Demoralize:

We are in the middle of another Operation Demoralize. It happens every national election. This time it’s early, only June.

The media swarms and lies. Tells you it’s over, wants you to give up. Happens every single time.

If anything, Operation Demoralize has picked up steam in the past two weeks to negate good economic data and rising consumer sentiment. May and June employment gains were far better than forecast, and the unemployment rate dropped sharply.

Public perception of the economy is improving off its lows. Rasmussen Report writes Economic Confidence Continues to Emerge from Its COVID Slump:

With more of the country moving through their COVID-19 reopening phases, confidence in the economy continues its upswing, with the Rasmussen Reports Economic Index rising another five points from June to 114.9.

Thirty-five percent (35%) of American Adults rate the economy as good or excellent this month, up another three points from last month but still well below the highs reported at the beginning of 2020. Thirty-three percent (33%) say the economy is poor, down six points from June and an 11-point improvement from May’s all-time high.

Twenty-eight percent (28%) think the economy is getting better, up just two points from a month ago. Forty-eight percent (48%) still expect a worsening economy, but that’s a four-point improvement from June and 19 points better than April’s most pessimistic view of economic direction. Seventeen percent (17%) see things staying about the same.

By comparison, just prior to the 2016 presidential election, 31% rated the economy as good or excellent, and 26% expected it to get better.

These findings are consistent with other measures of consumer confidence reported recently. The Consumer Confidence Index rose sharply:

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® increased in June, after virtually no change in May. The Index now stands at 98.1 (1985=100), up from 85.9 in May. The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – improved from 68.4 to 86.2. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions – increased from 97.6 in May to 106.0 this month.

The U. Michigan index also rose:

Consumer confidence rose moderately in June along with the reopening of the economy in several parts of the country, according to the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

Compared with the shutdown in April, consumers thought current economic conditions had improved but have only partially offset the steep declines due to the pandemic. Not surprisingly, many consumers thought the economy could only improve from its virtual standstill in April, and the record-breaking rise in unemployment would surely ease in the year ahead, said U-M economist Richard Curtin, director of the surveys….

The Consumer Sentiment Index was 78.1 in the June 2020 survey, up from 72.3 in May but well below last year’s 98.2. The Expectations Index rose to 72.3 in June, up from 65.9 in May and substantially below last year’s 89.3. The Current Conditions Index was 87.1 in June, up from 82.3 in May, but significantly below last June’s 111.9.

It is very likely that July will score more job gains and August will be off the charts as a lot of people will reenter the workforce once the $600 unemployment bonus ends in July.

In late May, Politico had an article about The general election scenario that Democrats are dreading, a fall economic bounce-back:

In early April, Jason Furman, a top economist in the Obama administration and now a professor at Harvard, was speaking via Zoom to a large bipartisan group of top officials from both parties. The economy had just been shut down, unemployment was spiking and some policymakers were predicting an era worse than the Great Depression. The economic carnage seemed likely to doom President Donald Trump’s chances at reelection.

Furman, tapped to give the opening presentation, looked into his screen of poorly lit boxes of frightened wonks and made a startling claim.

“We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country,” he said.

The former Cabinet secretaries and Federal Reserve chairs in the Zoom boxes were confused, though some of the Republicans may have been newly relieved and some of the Democrats suddenly concerned.

“Everyone looked puzzled and thought I had misspoken,” Furman said in an interview. Instead of forecasting a prolonged Depression-level economic catastrophe, Furman laid out a detailed case for why the months preceding the November election could offer Trump the chance to brag — truthfully — about the most explosive monthly employment numbers and gross domestic product growth ever.

This fear is likely to become reality. Which is why Democrats have zero incentive to reopen the economy in states they control, or to stop rioting and protests in cities they control. The media will always present the worst possible scenario.

Despite this improvement, Rush Limbaugh sounds worried about perception of Trump’s handling of the pandemic:

Okay. I’ve gotta move fast here, folks, not much time. But I want to go back to this ABC News poll, Trump’s approval rating and handling the virus. His disapproval is 67%. “Sixty-seven percent disapprove of his management of the coronavirus pandemic and race relations.” Now, toss aside that we all think polling data is bogus. The fact is, if this is true, he’s gonna have to turn this around, because the pandemic is everything out there….

It would be best to, I think, proceed on the basis the number is fairly accurate. Even if the number is wrong, it can’t hurt to deal with it.

I’m not being critical.

I’m talking we’ve got — what — 115 days, the number is, before the election.

Perception is reality in politics

I agree that perception can be reality in politics and that this is cause for concern. Maintaining the perception of Trump failure on the pandemic would help Democrats avoid the negative (for them) reality of a rebounding economy.

“Worry, don’t be happy” is the plan.


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