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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Fundamental Things Apply...

Shortly after Friday's unemployment report, Jay Cost wrote:
Another terrible jobs report today: The establishment survey reported the economy added just 115,000 jobs. While the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent, according to the household survey, it was once again for the wrong reason. The unemployment rate is simply a ratio – the number of people counted as unemployed divided by the number of people in the labor force. The rate fell because of a notable drop in the latter, fewer folks are looking for work.
In fact, the household survey actually found 170,000 fewer jobs in the country this month. What’s more, the broadest measure of employment – the employment population ratio – isunchanged over the last year, despite a drop in headline unemployment from 9 percent to 8.1 percent. The employment population ratio is just 58.4 percent; a level that, prior to this recession, we had not seen in over a generation.
What does this mean for Obama’s reelection prospects, as well as the Romney campaign?
The economic picture is the bleakest for any president seeking reelection in a long time. As Sean Trende argued in late January, a composite view of the economic data suggests 2012 is a worse economic climate than 1968, 1976, 1992, and 2000 – in all those years, the incumbent party lost. It is comparable to 1960 (another losing year for the incumbent party) and only the disastrous cycles of 2008 and 1980 saw a worse economic climate for the incumbent party. In other words, no incumbent party has won reelection in a negative climate quite like this.
Bloomberg reports:
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index shows that Americans are still worried about their economic future. The index dropped last week to a two-month low as more Americans grew concerned about their personal finances. The index fell to minus 37.6 in the week ended April 29 from minus 35.8, surrendering gains that had lifted it to a four-year high last month.
While Americans remained pessimistic about the economy, their views did improve with the index rising to minus 64.3 from minus 66.4.
Real median household income in March was down $4,300 in since Obama took office in January 2009 and is down $2,900 since the recovery started in June 2009, according to an estimate from Sentier Research, an economic-consulting firm based in Annapolis, Maryland.
At Politico, Charles Mahtesian writes of House races:
There’s a curious disconnect between the widely-held opinion among the political class (that the Democrats probably can’t win back the majority this year) and the narrative that the media continues to report (that the GOP House majority is on a razor’s edge or the tide is turning in favor of the Democrats).
David Wasserman, the House analyst for the highly respected and non-partisan Cook Political Report, highlights that perception gap in a new report that looks at the House landscape.
Wasserman's view: “Democrats and DCCC Chair Rep. Steve Israel have done an impressive job pitching their overall prospects to donors and some members of the media.”
According to his own detailed assessment of the House map, Wasserman doesn’t see enough evidence at this point to suggest Democrats are poised to win back control.
He points to the party's “impressive ability to keep pace in the money chase at both the candidate and committee level,” but reports there’s no sign of a national wave that would throw the House GOP out of power.
Not only that, a dozen of the most vulnerable House Republicans saw their districts shored up in redistricting. Then there is the open seat issue: Democrats must defend 20 of them, compared to 16 for the GOP.