U.S. Third-Quarter Growth Could Be Late Election Boost for Trump

Next week, the U.S. economy is expected to swing to a record increase in the third quarter, with GDP expanding by a forecasted 30 percent, which may offer a late election boost for President Donald Trump.

In the second quarter of the year, as the pandemic bit down hard and states locked down, the world's largest economy plunged at a record rate of 31.4 percent—its biggest drop in a single quarter in history.

The American economy was pushed into a recession as the coronavirus pandemic ripped into consumer and business spending due to people staying at home and businesses closing their doors.

However, economists have now predicted a snap-back rebound in the July to September quarter as restaurants and shops reopened and people returned to work.

The government will release its third-quarter GDP report on October 29, five days before the election.

News of a fierce economic rebound might provide the president with a last-minute thrust as he seeks to persuade voters to elect him for a second term, particularly in the tighter swing state races, such as Florida.

According to the FiveThirtyEight national poll tracker, Trump is behind his Democratic challenger Joe Biden by a 10.7 percentage point margin, though the electoral college system, not the popular vote, will determine the winner.

Trump's polling on the economy shows it is his strongest area against his opponent.

Despite the current recession, more Americans believe he is the better candidate to lead the economy, with just more than half of voters approving of the way he is handling the economy in the current crisis, according to a RealClearPolitics tracker.

But the release of the upcoming GDP report may be a little too late for Trump. Many people have already cast their votes early because of the pandemic, and polling suggests there are fewer undecided voters than in 2016.

The Federal Reserve predicts that the U.S. economy will contract 3.7 percent in 2020, lower than an initial estimate of a 6.5 percent fall, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects global growth to shrink 4.4 percent this year.

This is the worst global decline since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Earlier this week, China's revealed GDP data showing the world's second-largest economy grew 4.9 percent between July and September when compared to the same quarter last year, missing forecasts of 5.2 percent growth.

China, where the COVID-19 pandemic originated, is the first major economy to recover from the health crisis and expected to be the only G20 country to grow this year, though there are questions around the reliability of its data.

New York Times Square
New York's Times Square lies deserted. The American economy was pushed into a recession in the second quarter as the pandemic ripped into consumer and business spending due to people staying at home and businesses closing. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images