It was a bit of a good news bad news morning Friday for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
On the good side, polls now show a clear tightening of the race with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's lead shrinking from 12 points to just 4 in The Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll. The change helped reduce Clinton's lead in the Real Clear Politics Average to 5.3 percentage points, still a solid advantage less than two weeks before Election Day.
On the bad news front, third-quarter GDP growth came in at 2.9 percent, a better-than-expected reading that dents Trump's case that the economy has stalled out. Trump has spent much of the campaign describing the U.S. economy as a disaster, a hollowed hellscape of shuttered factories and violent inner cities menaced by dangerous illegal immigrants. "Right now our country is dying at 1 percent GDP," the GOP nominee said during the third debate.
The latest GDP report — coupled with unemployment at just 5 percent and wages rising — undermines that case. "This is still another reason why Trump will probably lose. The economy is in decent shape so decent that the Fed will have to raise interest rates later this year," Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments, told me Friday.
"This report shows a solid economy with — ironically — decent export growth. Clinton simply has to avoid gloating. But this is a big plus for her, and she may get another pleasant surprise when the October jobs report is released next Friday."
The struggling economy — and voter fatigue with Democratic control of the White House — was always supposed to be the Republican's ticket to winning in November. But Trump never managed to stay focused on the economy, despite the strong appeal of his anti-free trade message in several Rust Belt states. The GOP nominee often found himself mired in controversies of his own making, from attacking the family of a slain U.S. solider to his crude comments about women and repeated fights with fellow Republicans.