The drop in the unemployment rate from 9 percent in October to 8.6 percent in November raises the legitimate question of whether the picture is brightening for the economy and the incumbent. Some analysts noted the similarity between November’s 8.6 percent unemployment rate and the 8.5 percent jobless rate in November 1983, a year before President Reagan won reelection in a 49-state landslide. Unemployment had been a bit worse for Reagan earlier in his first term than it was for Obama, 10.8 percent for the former compared with 10.1 percent for the latter. Reagan got to enjoy a strong “V” shaped recovery where unemployment fell to 7.2 percent by Election Day. But no economists anticipate such a swift recovery now.
Fewer Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week. So few in fact, that initial jobless claims were at their lowest level since May 2008.
About 366,000 people filed initial jobless claims in the week ended Dec. 10, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was a decrease of 19,000 from the prior week, and far better than the bigger influx of claims that economists were expecting.
Public discontent with Congress has reached record levels, and the implications for incumbents in next year's elections could be stark, according to the the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 7-11. Two-in-three voters say most members of Congress should be voted out of office in 2012 - the highest on record. And the number who say their own member should be replaced matches the all-time high recorded in 2010, when fully 58 members of Congress lost reelection bids - the most in any election since 1948.
The Republican Party is taking more of the blame than the Democrats for a do-nothing Congress. A record-high 50% say that the current Congress has accomplished less than other recent Congresses, and by nearly two-to-one (40% to 23%) more blame Republican leaders than Democratic leaders for this. By wide margins, the GOP is seen as the party that is more extreme in its positions, less willing to work with the other side to get things done, and less honest and ethical in the way it governs. And for the first time in over two years, the Democratic Party has gained the edge as the party better able to manage the federal government.