President Trump’s failure to negotiate a coronavirus relief deal with Congress before the election, record-breaking surges in new covid-19 infections, a tanking stock market, declining consumer confidence in battleground states and ominous layoff announcements appear to have taken at least a marginal toll on what has been his biggest polling advantage amid the pandemic: perceived competency at managing the economy.

The U.S. economy grew at 7.4 percent between July and September, recovering about two-thirds of its losses during the first half of the year. This is a number Trump will ballyhoo for the five days remaining until the election, but the gross domestic product is now about the size it was in the first quarter of 2018. Growing hospitalizations and deaths from the virus, combined with uncertainty about when another stimulus bill might pass, put dark storm clouds above the economy.

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