Thursday, July 12, 2012

Will Bad Jobs Data Finally Move the Polls?

The July 6 jobs numbers are as weak as June’s.  The race did not tighten in June.  Will July be different?  Barack Obama has been ahead of Romney since January, ranging from six points to a tie on May 7.  His recent three-point lead has held up throughout June and, although it tightened to two points, it still seems impervious to the poor economic news.

That was a surprise and is a big problem for Mitt Romney. Historically, the strength of the economy measured by unemployment and direction were key indicators if an incumbent was going to be re-elected.

Unemployment is stuck at a high 8.2 percent and the direction flat. Are the polls struck or can Romney move ahead for the first time this year in the Real Clear Politics polling average?

Although there are a multitude of alternatives for the November election, the current scenario is for the Democrats to pick up a few seats in the House, lose a few in the Senate and the President to be re-elected by two points.  

A number of factors appear to be helping Obama and keeping Romney in second place.
  • Obama has been using media advertising to counter the bad news.  In June, when bad employment numbers and the Democratic blow-out in Wisconsin should have helped Romney, nothing changed.  Although a majority of the voters have made a decision, those in swing states still open to persuasion are viewing a barrage of anti-Romney ads.
  • Obama has worked hard to shift the discussion from current unemployment to his claim of improvements since early 2009. He also argues that he inherited the problem from Bush. But most importantly, he argues that Romney and his policies are unfair and will hurt the middle class.  Obama has introduced Romney and it’s been overwhelmingly negative.
  • Obama is aggressively using an incumbent’s power to hand out benefits, from grants and programs to status and recognition. The administration is busy announcing rural development grants, patent office placements, changes in illegal immigrant deportation rules and support for gay marriage. Obama is attempting to win over voters who are only weakly committed or are base Democrats, but may not vote without an extra incentive.
G.W. Bush was ahead by three points in June in the 2004 re-election against John Kerry.  He won by three in November.  His problem wasn’t unemployment, but the war in Iraq.  The Bain attack is having the effect of the Swift Boat attacks, which was mounted by an independent group in the summer of 2004, but put Kerry on the defensive.  He never recovered.

July 6 9KUSA News interview:  Weak jobs figures do little to shake up Presidential race
July 11 NPR interview:  Romney campaigns in conservative parts of Colorado
USA Today:  Swing states poll:  Amid barrage of ads, Obama has edge

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