Does Continued High Unemployment Make Romney A Shoo-In?
Not necessarily – but it does improve Romney’s Chances.
Yesterday’s unemployment report showed the U.S. economy is still in slow recovery mode but teetering on the brink of another recession. If elections are about jobs and voting one’s wallet, the consecutive months of abysmal jobs numbers are a political economy problem for President Obama and will become a focal point for Republicans seeking to get votes.
High unemployment has been a problem for every president that ran for reelection. The unemployment rate has been above 8 percent for 41 months and yesterday’s unemployment rate held steady at 8.2 percent with only 80,000 new jobs added in June 2012.
Republicans are still reeling from losing the healthcare debate and have not focused on the economy. The immigration debate has also taken center stage and polls show the President Obama’s ‘Dream Act’ is popular with Latinos who could help decide the election in his favor. Latino’s without jobs, who’ve been in the U.S. for generations may not be swayed by immigration issues and the topic is less clear-cut than it appears.
The healthcare debate has diminishing marginal returns in terms of votes. Those voters who tend not to like Obamacare are galvanized by the Supreme Court decision but additional – independent votes may be harder to obtain based on healthcare concerns alone. If Republicans focus on jobs numbers and President Obama’s claims of ‘change’ they may find more people are receptive to their message.
Presidents with unemployment at these levels in the past have not been reelected and Democratic presidents rarely win two terms since the Truman years. Unemployment doesn’t mean Mitt Romney is a shoo-in – but it vastly increases his chances. There is some evidence that the real unemployment rate on average is much higher and this also makes President Obama’s chance of reelection harder. The Obama administration may continue to focus on Mitt Romney’s record, Bain capital and outsourcing but this may not be enough to dissuade people from ‘trying something new’. A pendulum swing in the economy would help President Obama but it may not occur in the current environment. Now that the healthcare law has been considered a tax, President Obama may want to cut taxes or extend the Bush Tax cuts to countervail the Supreme Court’s decision.