Factories in Iowa are humming. Employment in New Hampshire is thriving. The giant tourism and hotel industry in Nevada is booming. And in South Carolina, more African Americans are finding jobs.

This is the economic landscape less than a year from Election Day — and just months before those four states become the first in the nation to hold their 2020 primaries.

While President Donald Trump can point the strength of the economy as a whole — as he likely will in a speech Tuesday on the economy — his Democratic rivals have seized on the everyday realities of millions who've watched good times pass them by. Candidates like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have zeroed in on issues such as income inequality, wage disparity or a lack of health care. 

“The president is banking on the economy staying strong,” said David Juvet, senior vice president of public policy at New Hampshire’s Business and Industry Association. “If the Democrats can’t use the economy to support their candidacy then they will have to focus on very specific issues rather than just looking at the economy as a whole, which may be slowing but is continuing to grow.”

Ultimately when Nov. 3 arrives, voters will be asking themselves: Am I better off now than I was four years ago?

Here’s a by-the-numbers look in each state:


Date of Caucus :  Feb. 3
2016 Vote:  Donald Trump 51.2%, Hillary Clinton 41.7%

As the No. 1 exporter of corn and pork and the second largest soy-bean exporter, the state has been particularly exposed to the trade war with China but its farmers have still largely supported the president’s policies. Agriculture makes up less than 5% of the state’s economy but fuels much of the manufacturing in the state. It regained most of the manufacturing jobs lost in the last recession, with employment in industries like food processing helping to drive the recovery. But payrolls in trade and transportation have steadily fallen since mid-2016.

Economist Take: “Many farmers view this as a short-term pain, long-term gain phenomenon, hoping that this will result in a structural reduction of trade barriers in dealing with China and that there will be more and greater amounts of products going to China at the end of this,” said Wendong Zhang, co-founder of Iowa State University’s Center for China-US Agricultural Economics and Policy.

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