It’s impossible lately to turn on the news and not hear the latest headlines surrounding the 2016 Presidential election. Multiple candidates are running to be the candidate their respective parties run in November to decide who sits in the White House for four years, and possibly even eight, given how often incumbent presidents win reelection. Many issues and factors go into these races, from foreign policy to the race and gender of candidates. However, most issues wind up being economic in nature.
What’s interesting about economic concerns and the elections is how they interact. For the most part, economists consider the national and global economies to be somewhat stable and growing, as the planet at large continues to rebound from the Great Recession of some years back. However, this rebound has not been equal everywhere, and stability is not as strong as could be hoped for. The early 2016 stock markets saw dangerous drops in America, with fears of impending recession, only to see an early spring season surge to indicate growth again. Of course, the uncertainty over what party and indeed which specific individual will be in power lends itself to stressing markets, which then both parties and all candidates point to as evidence that they are the ones that need to be in charge to calm such fears.
General economic instability is not the only concern voters have in regards to the election. Specific issues motivate and define voting patterns, political beliefs and even support for individual candidates. Voters who fear they have or are losing jobs to noncitizens or residents whose legal status is in dispute often fall in favor of candidates who support reducing the number of illegal immigrants in the country and strengthening national borders. In other cases, many people recognize that the economy has recovered and grown, but has substantially boosted the already wealthy while incomes and earnings have remained stagnant, flat or even deteriorating for working and middle-class individuals. That resentment and the worries of income inequality has fueled the support behind certain candidates.
While most voters want the economy to be sound, stable and growing, the ideas about how to accomplish this are quite varied. Some voters and politicians espouse raising minimum wages, expanding access to affordable health care, and raising taxes on the wealthy. Others support expanding fossil fuel use, cutting government spending and taxes, and restricting access to the country by those currently outside of it.
The economic concerns of voters can not be underestimated when it comes to the potential political impact in the 2016 elections. Not only will a new President be chosen for four years, but the entire House of Representatives is up for election, as is a third of the Senate. Add in the number of state legislatures and governor’s mansions up for grabs, and it’s impossible not to see just how much is at stake in terms of deciding which parties get power and in what places.