Your application to econ PhDs had a clear cut-off around the #25-30 mark, i.e. you were rejected by those higher than #25, accepted by those below #30.
That is also what I would have guessed about your profile; I definitely think you made a good decision on your target list. And congratulations.
But OP's profile isn't even comparable. You own results are sufficient to provide OP with the information he actually wanted to know about: He doesn't have a chance at the top 35. Not now, not in 1.5 years, and probably not even if he spends another year doing RA work. In fact, I'm willing to take a 1-to-3 wager that he doesn't get a funded offer from a top 35 Ph.D. program within the next 3 years.
I simply don't understand how your advice can be so drastically inconsistent with your own decisions and experiences.