For many voters in America’s affluent suburbs, a flourishing economy is forcing a thorny dilemma for the midterm elections.
Do they vote Democratic, in part to protest President Donald Trump for behavior some see as divisive and unpresidential? Or do they back Republicans in hopes that the economy will continue thriving under the majority party?
A healthy economy has at least complicated their decision and blurred the outcome of the midterm elections . On Friday, the government reported that employers added a robust 250,000 jobs in October. And the unemployment rate stayed at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent.
At stake Tuesday is control of the House and Senate, both now led by Republican majorities. Steady economic growth and a vigorous job market haven’t been the clincher in prosperous areas that were once seemingly safe Republican turf. Partly as a result, many analysts say Democrats stand a good chance of regaining control of the House even while Republicans maintain the Senate.
The ambivalence of many voters is evident in the Philadelphia suburbs of Bucks and Chester counties. The landscape of rolling hills is dotted by shopping plazas and luxury car dealerships, by fieldstone and stucco houses that fill cul-de-sacs. Residents are likelier than the country as a whole to have college degrees, and the median family income is about $100,000.
Interviews with about a dozen people elicited a range of sentiments about whether and how the economy might affect their votes. For some, all that matters is the energized pace of job growth, which began under President Barack Obama and has continued under Trump.
Others, some of them lifelong Republicans, are finding their loyalties tested by a president who embraces tariffs, disparages refugees and attacks political opponents. With Pennsylvania also holding votes for governor and a Senate seat, many said they were willing to split their votes between the parties.
“I’m not a fan of Donald Trump,” said 85-year-old Ross Kershey. “He doesn’t respect checks and balances. But he’s certainly done well for the economy.”