Today’s Jobs Report Unlikely to Change Election Trajectory

In August, I wrote the following regarding the monthly jobs reports:

Not much to see here. Really. The full takeaway is an improved report compared to the poor prior months but there is softness underneath the top-line results in a continuing weak economy. Regarding political implications, due to the current weak state in the economy, this jobs report and the next three before the election will only confirm preconceived views on the economy and/or the President absent a breakout report (high or low) above 200-250k or below 0.

Today’s non-farm payrolls number was 177k jobs added but the unemployment rate rode to 7.9%.  Republicans will spin that the unemployment rate is higher than when Obama took office and even worse if you factor in those who dropped out of the workforce.  Democrats will spin the recovery continues apace, albeit slow. Bottom line: jobs, economics, recovery all all fully baked into the cake. At this late juncture voter enthusiasm, turnout and avoiding a meltdown (Bush DUI, Benghazi?) are likely the only things that will affect Tuesday’s results.

Here are some smart takes on the jobs report:

It’s hard to write about this report and not have it seen through a political prism, and, yes, these numbers were pretty good, but the difference between 125,000 jobs added and 171,000 added, in a work force of 155 million someodd people, is statistically insignificant. What matters are wages. Our David Wessel just pointed out that over the past year, wages are up 1.6%, consumer prices are up 2%. — Paul Vigna, Wall Street Journal

September payrolls were revised to a gain of 148,000 from an initially reported 114,000, and August to 192,000 from 142,000. The U6, which is a broader measure of unemployment including job seekers as well as those stuck in part-time jobs, fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 14.6% in October. — Steven Russolillo


  1. AJ
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink | Reply

    The only advantage is that for 4 days now the news cant show a big drop in unemployment. Had it dropped at all you would have heard nothing but the economy is completely fixed.

  2. Philanthropic_Extortinist
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink | Reply

    MSM reporting 177k jobs created with no mention of the unemployment number. No wonder they’re all failing to make profit. The pblic distrusts the media and for good reason. the Breaking News banner on yahoo conveniently disappeared after about two minutes, hmm.

    • stuckinmass
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink | Reply

      177K Is NOT a great number. It isn’t enough to keep up with the labor force growth so it isn’t enough to lower unemployment. When Bush was pres, the MSM would spin numbers like this as bad news.

      • Philanthropic_Extortinist
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        You’re preaching to the choir. I understand how bad this number is. The most concerning thing about 177k jobs is that they (dems) think this is a good thing. The “new normal” is terrifying. Liberals have created such a distrotion of reality that anything above absolute catastrophe is a move in the right direction. But in reality, any jobs number below 300k is terrible news. Man, I really hate media spin!

      • Chris
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        I agree…it’s very worrisome that people think 177K and 7.9% is good, or somehow acceptable. But, we’ve been at or above this for four years, and the media long ago abandoned any pretense of journalistic integrity by actually holding the admin accountable, so it’s no wonder people think it’s normal. I think that’s why Obama has held up as well as he has this campaign…people have been brainwashed into thinking this is what a recovery looks like. Doesn’t seem to matter that it’s meant more people are on food stamps, or that incomes are down, or that people have less while facing higher gas prices, higher food costs, higher health care costs. It’s scary to think there’s a decent chance people will vote for more of the same next week.

      • stuckinmass
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        It is even worse than that. Remember the unemployment rate only counts people actively looking for work. If you give up looking for work you no longer factor in because you are no longer counted as being in the work force.

        You can look at the labor force participation rate on the bls site.

        play with the date ranges, the participation rate has trended down during the last 4 years and is almost at the low, no good news there! Go back further and you will see that it hasn’t been that low since the mid 70s. Yes, even the awful Carter years were better than this!

  3. Tom
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink | Reply

    Couldn’t agree more Keith. The problem for obama is that we’ve all lived these last 4 years and no media spin can change that.

  4. Interested Party
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink | Reply

    These numbers made no difference the last three months they were announced. It’s turnout time, and the trajectory of the race has already been set.

  5. Anthony
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    Drudge has Ras reporting a 48-48. Has anyone else seen this?

    • Matthew
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink | Reply

      I think that you will see it inch back up starting tomorrow or sunday. History shows in elections that it tightens toward start of last week and then pulls away at end of it. We will be ok plus that leaves 3 percent undecided and 1 percent to 3rd party. Of 3 percent undecided we should get 2 percent of that

  6. Jody
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink | Reply

    These three things go together: 1. Friday Rasmussen R 48 O 48, 2. Sandy, 3. Chris Christie.

    • Chris
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, looks like O’s getting a small storm bump…they don’t call ’em swing voters for nothing. And Christie certainly contributed some to that with his over-the-top praise.

      • KN
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        Ann Coulter said it best when she labeled swing voters as the “stupid voters.” They have no set of philosophies or pre-defined values. They are as fickle as the wind. I wish we could permanently bar swing voters from voting.

      • Chris
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Heh, me too. If you’re that fickle, you probably haven’t been paying attention and shouldn’t be voting in the first place.

      • Svigor
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        I’m just speculating, but my theory is that there’s a significant number of swing voters who aren’t idiots. And I mean after you exclude “swing voters” who aren’t really swing voters, but D or R in disguise. I think they vote more the situation and the people. They tend to ignore party and partisanship and vote according to issues and candidates and what they say and do.

        Harder to get a finger on them obviously, because “Independent” isn’t an organized thing like D or R, but that’s my theory.

  7. Medicine Man
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink | Reply

    Looks like O got a little bump via Rasmussen from Sandy. 48/48. Looking at the internals, it could be closer to 48.4/47.6 etc. It is a 3 day rolling average ( Tues night, Wed and Thursday) so it will be interesting to see what the next day or 2 will look like ( when Tues and Wed drop off when all the Christie/Obama coverage was going on). Other internals: Certain Romney 46 Certain Obama 44. That has been pretty stable for 2 weeks.

    • Matthew
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink | Reply

      do you know what party id rasmussen is using

      • Medicine Man
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        I think d+3 per numbersmuncher the last I read.

      • Tom
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        I had a friend tell me it was D+4 in Ras. It won’t be near that. Best case for dems is even and could be R+2.

    • MichaelG
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink | Reply

      I hate this. Rasmussen is one of the only polls I can somewhat trust. The trend towards O makes me physically ill. Need some good news today!!!

  8. Medicine Man
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink | Reply

    48.4/47.6 when looking at the leaners in the internals. They don’t add up to 48/48.

    • Vadim
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink | Reply

      Is it 48.4/47.6 in favor of Romney?

      • Medicine Man
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        Yep. Break down is: Romney: Certain 46 Likely 2 lean 1. Obama: Certain 44 likely 2 lean 1. Looks like undecideds in this 3 day rolling is 3.

    • Vadim
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink | Reply


    • Brad
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink | Reply

      But the take away is that O is surging. This could prove to be like Bush/Kerry where O surges late due to Sandy.

      • sr
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        There is no proof of that. It could just be noise. Calm down.

      • Guest
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        Complete nonsense.

        Given that some polls were giving Obama double-digit leads in the past, it’s foolishness to try and spin this as anything near a surge. Just a bump.

      • Brad
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        There is proof. +2 via Rass per the first full poll released after the President’s visit. O is likely to continue surging this weekend as Wed. and Thurs. fall off.

  9. NHConservative
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink | Reply

    Will there be a Gallup poll today?

    • Matthew
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink | Reply

      no they polled last night and next 3 nights and will release results monday

    • Chris
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think so…they just resumed polling yesterday, so maybe Sunday (if they’re doing a 3 day tracking)?

      • Vadim
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        It is a 7 day tracking. They should have the new numbers today but will be missing a few days due to Sandy.

      • Chris
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        Ah, thanks. Not sure why I thought they’d just start from scratch!

      • JGS
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        I don’t think Gallup is going to be doing what you say. I am not expecting to see a “7 day tracking” which includes 10/26, 10/27, 10/28 and today (while omitting data from the 3 days that were missed). From the release they put out, my understanding is that they are not going to be putting out any national polling data until Monday.

      • JGS
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        Sorry, I meant and “yesterday” (not “today”). In any event, see the last paragraph of Gallup’s release linked below.

  10. Loach
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink | Reply

    Morning Jay: Why Romney is Likely to Win

    Sure hope he’s right.

    • Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink | Reply

      Its all up to turnout now. That is unless something major happens

      • Medicine Man
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Yeah. Not to rationalize (the other side is great at that), the fundamentals haven’t changed for RR. Things aren’t getting any better on the east coast. Smacks of Katrina.

    • petep
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink | Reply

      It is a reasonable and logical breakdown of how the country is politically. There are not that many liberals/leftists(no more than 20% if that). The rest of the D coalition is a bunch of minority groups and government workers.

      Equally, there are not as many conservatives as some on the right want to claim (35% at most, twice three libs).

      The rest of the country may live a conservative lifestyle, may agree with conservative values, but that do not vote themselves as part of the right wing. These are the folks that will put Romney over the top (and the same folks who voted for O last time). Rush might hate the moderates in the middle, but they do have values and beliefs. They hated Bush’s out-of-control spending and were turned off by the while Terri Schiavo overreach. They will support wars when necessary but are tired of Iraq and Afghanistan. They want sound and reasonable government, not starving the beast. They want the excesses of Wall Street to be controlled so that crazy guys can’t screw the country again.

      Obama could be sailing to reelection if only he had done the things these folks wanted him to do.

  11. AndyN
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink | Reply

    What happened to the RAS swing state numbers for 4 days?

    • Loach
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink | Reply

      Likely suspended due to Sandy?

  12. Medicine Man
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink | Reply

    Hate to say it, but it reminds me of the Bush DUI story. Things were humming along nicely until that hit. It may shave a point or so off Mitt’s popular vote. At least we have a couple of hours until the troll’s wake up from their parent’s basement. Peter, you up yet?

  13. stuckinmass
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink | Reply

    The rule of thumb economists use is that 200,000 jobs have to be added per month to keep up with the growth in the labor force and lower unemployment. 177,000 is a sub-par number, there should be no silver lining for Obama here.

    • Neil in NC
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink | Reply

      That was w/the old population totals. We’re a nation of 315 million people now. That number is ~300k now.

  14. Brad
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink | Reply

    48-48 on RAS, means O is surging due to Sandy and O could lead this weekend. RR has been bleeding of late.

    • Big Mac
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink | Reply

      wrong, RR have not been bleeding and Romney is surging. Rasmussen is using D+3 which is likely wrong. BO is toast on Tuesday.

      • Brad
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        +2 in a single day w/ more likely to come. The numbers are what they are. You still have Wed. and Thurs. numbers that have to fall off, not good.

    • bks
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink | Reply

      CO Romney +1, FL Obama +2, OH Obama +2, VA Obama +5 (Reuters/Ipsos)


      • Interested Party
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        OK, let’s keep using a web based poll. Why?

      • Interested Party
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Take a look at some real data. CO early voting (1.3 million people, 50% of the electorate–large enough sample for you) is 39R, 34D. And Reuters-Ipsos has it R +1? Really?

      • Loach
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        Their VA poll has Obama leading among independents 55-18! Even you don’t believe that bks.

      • Dean
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        Surprising. Bettors have R strong fave in Florida, slight underdog in CO.

        VA, by all counts (bettors and early betting) shows that that +5 number is certainly an outlier.

    • sr
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink | Reply

      can you stop repeating this “surge” business? you posted that some time ago. No need to keep spreading the panic. Let’s aso remember that if Sandy moves pproval numbers, it also hits Obama most in EV esp in Cleveland where Sandy has wrecked havoc. Stop it.

      • Brad
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Actually, this post came first, before the other. I’m here to discuss the numbers – good bad or otherwise. Not to cheerlead, hype and make everyone feel warm fuzzie when things aren’t. I’ve been nervous about Sandy all week. Now we have evidence.

    • sr
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink | Reply

      Stop posting same stuff, Brad.

      • Brad
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Did you just tell me to “stop posting the same stuff,” twice?

    • Guest
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink | Reply

      RR have indeed been stalling and bleeding, but if the incumbent President is relying on that…

      And, by the way, tell the other guy to dump that nonsense poll showing Romney at 18% among independents.

      • Brad
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        Agreed, the race isn’t over but over the last few days you get the feeling that the MSM can now drag O over the line (while covering up Benghazi) thanks to Sandy and Christie.

  15. MichaelG
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    Declaring victory on the Sandy 2 days after. Why are people so stupid?!?!?! But….as the Katrina-esqueue pics and video are coming in, that’s gotta hurt. The media are blaming it on the Red Cross of course… Obama has zero accountability in the media.

    • Brad
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink | Reply

      Well, see. The media’s been doing an excellent job burying the gas shortages and has been running with the President’s “NJ is doing just fine…nothing to see..move along.”

  16. stuckinmass
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink | Reply

    Today’s unemployment rate 7.9%

    Don’t forget:

    1976, rate is 7.8%, Carter defeats Ford
    1980. rate 7.5% Reagan beats Carter
    1992, rate is 7.4% Clinton beats Bush

    Reagan won in 1984 with a 7.2% rate, but that was after months of really strong Job growth, and inflation gone. people could feel the economy had turned. Nobody is saying that now.

  17. John
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink | Reply

    Today’s Rasmussen national tied at 48-48 suggests that Obama likely won last nights poll by at least a point maybe two given the prior two days were 49-47 Romney. Rasmussen has increased their sampling to 1000 LVs per day so the MOE is smaller than the normal 3.0. Overall very depressing news indeed.

    • Interested Party
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink | Reply

      Relax. Look at actual data, not polls. CO early voting, 1.3 million people, 50% of the electorate, is 38-39R, 34-35D. Huff Post (of all people) has an article from yesterday suggesting that the trendline shows an R win 51-48 (what a lot of people have been saying). Throw out most of what you hear from polling this week. Rassmussen got hit bad by Sandy–who knows hat’s going on with him anymore.

    • zang
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hard to say that it means that. Ras moving to a 1000 a night sample from 500 a night. The last 500 night just fell off.

  18. Ranger375
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink | Reply

    I just have a problem believing that people change their mind so quickly based on the latest news.

    The debate I understand — I think a lot of people were wanting to know there was an alternative to Obama. The Obama campaign had painted Romney effectively as someone to fear.

    In my experience most people when faced with a decision ask themselves a couple of important questions.

    1) Have I ever seen anything like this before in the past?
    2) If so, and I stay with what I have already seen — What is it probably going to lead to?

    I believe most people base their decisions on past experiences. If you look at the Romney campaigns single thrust this is what they are playing to.

    1) What has the last 4 years looked like to you?
    2) Depending on your experience — what would 4 more years of the same look like?

    The thing Obama can’t counter are people’s experiences. They are what they are.

    Romney’s challenge is to paint a picture of what the future would look like if he is elected and most importantly make it something people would desire to improve the experiences of the last 4 years.

    Thing is people very seldom do things for YOUR reasons — they do things for THEIR reasons.

    Now enter in Fear Motivation and it can certainly motivate voters. However, fear motivation seldom lasts beyond seeing the thing that scares you disappear. Once the thing that scares you goes away so does the motivation.

    True and lasting motivation comes from the desire to attain something better based on the YOUR perceived value of acquiring the thing you desire.

    To me this is the key to the motivation and enthusiasm of the Republicans. If it had stayed a fear of Obama proposition it would have concerned me — all Obama would have had to do was move to the center. That I believe would have done the trick.

    Today though it has changed — Romney has given a picture of something worthy of desire — again what I believe generates lasting motivation based on individuals personal value perception.

    Make no mistake the basis of this election as well as other is around the question — WHAT IS IN IT FOR ME? I think every voter asks this even if they don’t know it.

    Win the answer to this question and you win the election.

  19. Neil in NC
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink | Reply

    Bylines on the Web

    ABC News

    Jobs Report: US Economy Adds 171,000 Jobs

    CBS News

    Unemployment Rises to 7.9%; 171,000 Jobs Added

    NBC News

    US economy adds more jobs than expected; jobless rate at 7.9 percent

    Fox News

    “VIRTUAL STANDSTILL”: 171K New Jobs, 171K New Jobless


    Modest Jobs Growth Seen in Last Report Before Election


    Ok – Who do you think is least partisan?

    Personally, when I was writing them down (I looked them up in the order they’re written) I thought CBS. I have to say that I like the twist that Fox presented by providing a little depth to the byline.

    • zang
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      CBS was the most unbiased, surprisingly. Just stated the simple facts without any spin.

  20. Tim B
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve been lurking here for the past 3 weeks and haven’t posted anything…until now, of course. I live in North Carolina and I know a guy who is 42 years old and have never voted but registered today and at the polls this very moment. His dad (in his 70’s) had never registered to vote until yesterday. Both voting for Romney! In fact, my co-worker who is voting right now just texted me to say that most of people standing in line to vote had a “red” card in their hand. I asked it that was a good thing and he said it was a Republican cheat sheet (helping to figure out which judges to vote for). How exciting is that?!?!?!?

    Look, you all should know that numbers don not lie. The president’s numbers WILL NOT be at 2008 levels and Romney is a far more competent candidate than McCain. You all, more than anyone, knows this. I have yet to hear someone who was a McCain voter say they were voting for the president. Yet, I have seen and heard of many who are going the other direction. It appears to be simple math. I understand the deluge of the MSM and feeling beatdown. I wish more was said about Libya, but my dad, who very rarely watches Fox News and never gets on the internet knows just as much as I do and I watch Fox all the time. Point being, people are not stupid…well not all of them are:) I just try to not pay attention it.

    It’s gonna be a great Tuesday night. Guys (and ladies) I truly believe in my heart of hearts that come Wednesday morning we will be celebrating!

  21. M. White
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink | Reply

    I think we all need to relax…in this world there are many events that we have no control of. Over the weekend there could be some sort of action in Libya to silence the critics and to change the subject from the failures there, we don’t know what will come of the North East over the damage from the hurrincane, people starving, getting angry, gas and food shortages, Obama may come off the campaign trail to make it like he really cares and give some tough talk about the clean-up and rescue efforts and then there is the unknown factor, such as something dropping out of the sky like a scandal and there won’t be time to defend against the critics, we just don’t know what may happen. Don’t be surprised of anything the Chicago machine attempts to win this election. They won’t go down without doing anything they can, no matter how illegal or disturbing. Also, Independants may be giving Obama a tiny boost but it will change when all the images of people angered, still trapped and starving come out starting today, and if people haven’t already made up their mind, then I guess they can be swayed by all sorts of things, but if Obama making a photo-op with Gov. Christies changes their mind then they are more wishy washy than I thought and have very short memories, maybe that unemployment number will jerk them back to reality. All I know is without a doubt that God is still in control and no matter who wins, God has a reason for it. I don’t want to ever question God and He knows what will happen. I am not trying to be a Bible thumper but I will tell you that if Obama wins we will see the true liberal Obama unabated, his true colors will go unchecked, he won’t have to really answer to the people because he won’t be running again. If the end of time is really near, then it would make since for him to be in office because all nations will turn their back on Israel, all nations, that includes us. My point is, God has an ultimate plan no matter what the outcome is Tuesday. I know that’s hard to swallow and I do believe Romney will win but we need to pray that God will allow him to win. We need to pray and cry out to God to heal our nation. If there are enough people in this country that are willing to do that, God will hear our prayers. Let’s just pray, hope and have faith in God!

    I will add one more thing…in the end times people will believe lies, so if Obama wins then a majority of people will have bought into his lies and deceit. I will be deeply saddened to find out this country is more liberal than I imagined.

    • Benson
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink | Reply

      Agreed White. The cards have been dealt and I don’t think anyone is going to change their vote now- regardless of the polls, media, jobs reports, or a campaign speech. I have faith in the country to do the right thing. I would be surprised and disappointed if the country re-elects Obama as they will have excused everything he has done the past 4 years. I am confident they won’t though. I personally have changed 12 votes that i know of and have had nobody ever try to change my vote. Republicans are passionate- democrats are ‘meh’

  22. jvnvch
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink | Reply

    Funny how the unemployment rate supposedly going down to 7.8% was a huge deal to the press, but supposedly going back up to 7.9% is insignificant.

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