Tag Archives: unemployment

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

Reporter Finds First Five Students at Columbus, OH Obama Rally Are Romney Supporters

This is rich (h/t @mattmargolis):

The cheering midst of a rally featuring President Barack Obama and a largely college-age crowd of 15,000 on the Oval at Ohio State University would not seem a likely place to encounter those not in the president’s corner. Yet, the first five students approached at random by a Dispatch reporter on Oct. 9 turned out to support Republican Mitt Romney and his aspirations of replacing Obama in the White House.

It’s not 2008 any more:

The must-vote adoration and enthusiasm for Obama isn’t what it once was among 18- to 29-year-old Millennials in central Ohio, a must-win area in a must-win state for presidential hopefuls. This is not 2008, when two-thirds of the youth vote broke big for Democrat Obama and his message of change amid the accompanying offer of making history by electing the first black president. This is 2012, with Obama running on a recession-riddled record. Job prospects are iffy for even educated young Ohioans. Some fear their generation is in danger of failing to match or better their parents’ now-dinged lifestyles.

Columbus and demographics

Millennials, an increasingly diverse and growing group representing 16 percent of Ohio’s population, are coveted by both Obama and Romney, with both making college campuses a frequent stop. And the biggest of them all, Ohio State and its 56,387 main-campus students, rests in the heart of Franklin County, which cast 50 percent of the presidential vote in a 20-county swath of central Ohio four years ago. Obama chose OSU, in fact, to kick off his re-election campaign at a May 5 rally…Franklin County typically is vital turf in presidential elections, with successful Democrats such as Obama relying on six-figure wins to overcome the GOP votes cast by the reliably Republican counties dominating central Ohio.

About that enthusiasm gap — Youth vote

But, courting and turning out the votes of youth, who are less reliable in going to the polls than older voters are, is proving more difficult this time around — a trend that could work against Obama’s re-election chances. National polls suggest Obama still enjoys a near 20 percentage-point advantage over Romney among young adults, but their enthusiasm has waned, leaving them less likely to vote than in 2008. Polling late last month by the Pew Research Center found young voters, who have cast a majority of their votes for Democrats in the past three presidential elections, are significantly less engaged than in 2008. Sixty-three percent of young registered voters plan to cast ballots this year, compared with 72 percent four years ago. And 61 percent call themselves “highly engaged” this year, down from 75 p ercent in 2008.

Herb Asher, a professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State, said youthful excitement over Obama has been tempered by the “real world and reality” of governing during tough times…Asher expects Obama to be a favorite again with Millennials in central Ohio but adds a footnote: “The real question is not so much the level or loyalty of support but turnout. … The youth vote is an integral part of his strategy and extremely important here.”

Quick Hits

Lots of good stuff out there that doesn’t fit neatly in this blog or merit a full post so I thought it was time for another one of these:

Calif. official whose agency under-reported unemployment stats was Obama campaign donor.

Volunteer to get out the vote in Florida tonight: Join the FreedomWorks Grassroots team for a comprehensive look at the best techniques for getting out the vote.

Ben over at Ace of Spades volunteered for the Romney using the election day task force link in the sidebar. They sent him an online training course that took 10 minutes. He provides tons of info in you’re so inclined.

Things on the ground in New Hampshire are looking up. First hand report over at the Powerline Blog. (h/t Housebroken Dad)

Attempts to diminish GOP early voting gains in Ohio are being met with rightful derision by Moe Lane. (h/t Medicine Man)

@NUmbersMuncher has a great post at Natiponal Review’s The Corner regarding the Romney lead with Independents in EVERY national poll, typically averaging +8.3%. (h/t No Tribe)

PPP is scrambling to rehabilitate its reputation with a few reasonable polls down the stretch since election “look backs” always focus on the later polls released in the cycle.

Jobs Report Shows Pockets of Strength — Unlikely to Change Election Dynamic

Bottom line (from two months ago) still applies today:

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.

The US economy added 114,000 jobs in September, and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8%. Rather than participate in conspiracy theories (Jack Welch should be ashamed of himself), let’s look at the reality of this jobs report.

Remember, there are 2 surveys here

The payroll numbers and unemployment figures are obtained by separate surveys—they sometimes diverge in the short-term but generally move in the same direction. The unemployment rate is obtained in a survey of households, which tends to be more variable because of a smaller sample size. Previously, changes in the rate have reflected people dropping out of the work force. That wasn’t the case in September.

Household survey versus non-farm payrolls

The volatile Household survey which had a couple bad months prior to this survey caught up in a big way this month.  That is not an unusual phenomenon for that labor component.  873,000 people in the Household survey claiming they have found jobs. This is the largest increase since 2003. That is very good news but it must be tempered by the volatile nature of the survey and the tepid non-farms payrolls report that sputtered along at +114k new jobs, consistent with recent results.

Same amount of people looking for work

Regardless of statistical jumps from accounting issues in the unemployment rate (not fudging, but also not accurate) the drop in unemployment to 7.8% is good for optics but no gain in real world. The Labor force participation rate — the share of people looking for work or working — was little changed at 63.6%.

Jim Baird, Chief Investment Strategist for Plante Moran Financial Advisors, sums it up nicely:

All things considered, today’s report is a modest surprise and the decline in the jobless rate is a positive development for the economy. Nonetheless, the bottom line is that the economy appears to be grinding along at a pace that is universally unsatisfying, and well short of the pace needed to ramp up the still lackluster pace of job creation and promote better household income growth.  There’s no question that the economy remains in a window of vulnerability, with the fiscal cliff looming large on the horizon.

How does this compare in political terms to the re-election campaigns in 1992 and 2004?

Bureau of Labor Statistics; Monthly jobs reports 1992 vs 2004 vs 2012

The graphs are not very distinguishable between these years. Don’t expect too actual political traction to be made by today’s jobs report by either candidate.

“Actually Happened”

American Crossroads goes all “Minority Report” on Obama’s failed economic record with its latest ad. According to Politico:

American Crossroads and its affiliate Crossroads GPS are going up today with their biggest paid media push so far in the 2012 cycle, … on TV and radio in eight presidential battlegrounds and four Senate contests … On the presidential level, American Crossroads will spend $11 million on a spot called ‘Actually Happened,’ which focuses on the impact that President Obama said the stimulus would have on the unemployment rate. The spot features a man using charts and graphics to show where the president said unemployment would be around now, under 5.5 percent, compared to where it is, at 8.1 …

The ad is running in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. Crossroads GPS …  is spending an additional $1 million on radio in those states.  Another $4 million is being spent by GPS [on Senate races in] in North Dakota, Virginia and Montana, and American Crossroads is going up in Florida. … Republican outside groups are about to demonstrate the extent to which they can have impact as the 2012 cycle enters its final stretch. … [T]he case has been made that, especially given Mitt Romney’s own comparatively light advertising in the summer, the groups helped keep the race close in the face of Obama’s spending.”

Entire Narrative of the Election Could Change This Week … and Not Because of the Debate

There isn’t a poll out there that doesn’t have some combination of the economy, jobs and the deficit as by far the paramount issues in this election. Often these are rolled into a general theme of simply the economy and there isn’t another issue even on the radar beyond this topic. This coming week the political press will focus on the October 3 debate but a series of economic data will hit the news wires all week that likely will have an even greater chance of impacting the ballot box decisions. Any number of times we have blogged Obama’s Achilles heel which is the economy and lately the economic data is showing an economy today in the same disrepair as when he took office.   Four years into his Presidency and the country is in many places as bad or worse off than how he found it despite his trillion dollar stimulus, $5 trillion increase in the federal deficit and a sweeping overhaul in our healthcare (Obamacare) that raises costs while lowering quality.  Mitt Romney needs to perform well in the debate, but the looming avalanche of economic data this week could easily overwhelm any narrative coming from out of the debate. Business Insider runs through the week ahead in economic news:


  • Chinese Markets closed for Golden Week
  • Central Bank Decisions from Aussie, BOE, ECB and BOJ
  • Big Ben speaks, and the Minutes from the September meeting
  • Global PMI Data – China, EU, UK, USA
  • September Auto Sales and Retailer Same Store Sales
  • US and EU Employment reports
  • A Big Spanish Bond Auction
  • Value Investing Conference – Major HF speakers
  • European Banking Authority – final report on capital plans
  • The First debate between Gov. Romney and President Obama

Economic Calendar:

MONDAY: It’s global PMI day. So starting late Sunday night in the US, we’ll be getting critical manufacturing reports from Asia, and then Europe, and then of course the US, concluding with the US at 10:00 AM ET. Also at 10:00 AM ET we get Construction Spending for October. There’s also going to be a monetary policy speech by Bernanke, a speech by the head of the SF Fed.

TUESDAY: In the US we get September Auto & Truck Sales, which should provide a critical gauge of the state of the jobs market. The Aussie Central Bank will also act. And we get the New York ISM report.

WEDNESDAY: We get our first big preview of Friday’s non-farm payrolls report, with the ADP jobs report, coming out at 9:15 AM ET. It’s also non-manufacturing PMI day, so we’ll get numbers from China, Europe, and the US. Wednesday night of course is also the night of the first debate between Romney and Obama. Everyone will be watching.

THURSDAY: The all-important Initial Jobless Claims number comes out at 8:30 AM ET. In Europe, there will be rate decisions from the BoE and the ECB (the press conference should be most interesting), and there will be bond auctions in Spain and France. Later in the day, there will be a speech from Fed Governor Bullard.

FRIDAY: The week ends with the Grande Finale of economic data: The September Jobs Report. This needs no hyping of course. Also at 3 PM ET that day, August Consumer Credit is revealed.

The Battle for Nevada — The Buffalo News

Interesting story on the state of affairs in Nevada from The Buffalo News. They take and in-depth look at the lay of the land in this Battleground with its cross-currents of issues and needs through the eyes of some Buffalo ex-pats in the Silver State:

CoreLogic, a company that tracks real estate data, says 64.7 percent of Las Vegas-area homeowners were “under water” early this year – meaning the value of their homes plunged so far that they owe more on the mortgage than the place is worth. Welcome to Nevada, land of the endless Great Recession, where the 12.1 percent unemployment rate leads the nation and where President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, are fighting fiercely for six electoral votes and the loyalty of voters like John McGinty. The choice, undecided voters and some experts said, pits a Democratic president who has tried and failed to end an economic nightmare against a Republican who might just make things better – or worse. The real estate collapse that happened here and around the nation four years ago is not Obama’s fault, nor Romney’s. It’s the fault of a nation that turned its real estate market into Las Vegas – and left 60 percent of the homeowners in Nevada, and more than a third of those in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Michigan, under water in the process. All the boom towns went on the same real estate roller coaster ride. As the government encouraged home ownership, banks took to bundling and selling off their mortgages in packages and relaxed lending standards along the way.

Las Vegas

The result was evident in Las Vegas by the mid-2000s. Fueled by such speculation, the median home value in Las Vegas shot up from $205,200 in January 2004 to a peak of $315,000 in June of 2006. But then came the financial crisis. Confidence fell, lending standards tightened, investors started bailing on their properties – and the median home price here plummeted to a low of $118,000 this January. It’s bounced back to $138,000 since then, but signs of the collapse can still be seen everywhere. Two would-be casinos on the Strip have stood unfinished for years. Started and abandoned developments dot the suburban landscape.

Housing bust reality

And at Johnny Mac’s, John McGinty finds himself handing out the occasional free lunch and personal loan to loyal customers in need. “I do what I can to help,” McGinty said. He does this while coping with a downturn in business and mortgage payments on a three-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot home he bought for $495,000 in the mid-2000s that, he reckons, is worth about $210,000 today. Countless Las Vegas homeowners, most of them speculators, have found themselves in McGinty’s situation and walked away, intentionally defaulting on their mortgages. Economic experts say the real estate crash wrecked consumer confidence and crushed the job market, leading to an unemployment rate that’s three full percentage points higher than Buffalo’s.

Frequent visitors, Different ideas

Obama and Romney have had plenty of time for Nevada. The president will arrive here today for three days of debate preparation; it’s his ninth visit of the campaign. Romney, meanwhile, has been here six times. Yet what they’re offering voters could not be more different.

The Obama Plan for Nevada

Obama sticks by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which is aimed at curbing the excesses that caused the financial crisis. In addition, he touts elements of his 2009 stimulus bill that aimed to make it easier for troubled homeowners to refinance, or even to get lenders to agree to reduce the amount of principal on troubled loans, and criticizes Congress for not expanding the refinancing program as he suggested. The trouble is, banks seem to be reluctant to take part in the original Obama refinancing and principal-reduction programs, said Kelley, head of the Realtors group. Besides, many troubled homeowners have second mortgages – and the holders of those loans are not cooperating.

The Romney Plan for Nevada

Romney wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank law, saying it’s so burdensome that lenders are now reluctant to make home loans. He also offers varying free-market proposals for addressing the Nevada housing crisis. “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process,” he told the Las Vegas Review Journal last October. “Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” And on a Sept. 21 trip to Sin City, the GOP nominee went a step further. “The federal government has about 200,000 foreclosed homes they are holding onto,” Romney said. “I’ll make sure we get them sold, so every home is occupied, we fix our neighborhoods,” The trouble with Romney’s comments is twofold, Las Vegas-area economic experts and political pundits said. First off, letting foreclosures move forward, or putting 200,000 more homes on the market all at once, very well could depress housing values further.
On the political side, Romney’s let-them-eat-cake comments on foreclosures reinforced the Democratic caricature of him as an out-of-touch plutocrat. “It’s a very bad sound byte for him,” said Jon Ralston, a Buffalo native and longtime Las Vegas political reporter who now publishes RalstonFlash.com, a political newsletter.

Ground game is key

Ralston finds it “astonishing” that Obama appears to have an edge in a state with a 12.1 percent unemployment rate, but that appears to be the case. The latest Real Clear Politics average of polls in the Silver State finds Obama 3.8 points ahead, and political pundits say there are plenty of explanations for that edge. “The state Republican party is very much a broken party,” said David Damore, a UNLV political scientist. Party control swung to a faction loyal to Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, in May. The result: the Romney campaign has had to build a get-out-the-vote effort from scratch to compete with a Democratic effort honed in Obama’s 2008 victory here and the re-election of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid two years later. “The Democrats have a very effective ground game,” said former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, a Democrat who nonetheless said the race remains “too close for any comfort.”


Obama is getting a boost, too, from the state’s Hispanics, who now account for more than a quarter of the state population. Political pros here say heated GOP rhetoric on the immigration issue has helped propel the president to a 43-point lead among Hispanics in a Public Policy Polling survey last month. “A lot of (Hispanics) don’t understand how powerful the vote is,” said Arianni Valencia, 20, a Romney volunteer who specializes in reaching out to the Hispanic community. “They’re not even sure what it is to be a Republican or a Democrat. But they see the other side reaching out to them, and we’re trying to catch up.”

The deciding factor

Sherman Conley, 71, seemed to sum up the thoughts of many of the dozens of Nevada voters interviewed last week by The Buffalo News. “It’s a critical election,” said Conley, a Buffalo native, “and I’ve got to figure out who will do me the least amount of harm.”

Obama Leaving the Economy Exactly How He Found It

Barack Obama likes to talk about how he was handed the economy in horrible shape.  Well I guess he learned his lesson about leaving things how you find them. The drumbeat of bad news drones on and on now 4 years after $1 trillion dollars in “stimulus” was wasted on crony capitalism that created no jobs and has yet to revive the economy.  The latest comes from business slowing and dropping investment orders for large manufacturing equipment as well as a revision to just how bad the economy has been this year:

The precarious position of the U.S. economy was evident Thursday as separate reports showed a steep decline in orders for big-ticket items in August and growth in the spring was lower than forecast. Orders for durable goods—those designed to last longer than three years, such as cars and televisions—fell 13% from July to a seasonally adjusted $198.5 billion, the Commerce Department said. The drop, the largest since January 2009, largely reflected fewer purchases of commercial aircraft, a volatile category that can skew the data. However, demand for most other items, including automobiles, also fell, albeit at more modest pace, which could mean continued sluggishness in the economy through the rest of 2012.

The report came as the government said the economy grew more slowly in the second quarter than previously thought. The Commerce Department said gross domestic product grew at an annual pace of 1.3% in the April-through-June quarter instead of 1.7%, as weak consumer spending and the drought in the Midwest held back growth. The decline in durable-goods orders caused concern that businesses and consumers are hunkering down as threats to the U.S. economy loom—including the prospect of tax increases and spending cuts at home, and a broad slowdown in economies abroad.

Notice the part highlighted above.  Business long-term faith in any economic revival is apace the exact time Obama entered the White House. Chilling if you think about it.

This is much the same as the manufacturing  sector which contracted for the third straight month in August.  We’ll find out next week of Obama can make it four-in-a-row.  There had not been three straight readings below this contraction line since May-July 2009.

And the job picture, already embarrassingly ugly,  grows gloomier by the day:

Putting pressure on an already lousy job market, the mass layoff is making a comeback. In the past week, Cisco, Lockheed Martin and Borders announced a combined 23,000 in job cuts.  Those announcements follow 41,432 in planned cuts in June, up 11.6% from May and 5.3% vs. a year earlier, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Meanwhile, state and local governments have cut 142,000 jobs this year, The WSJ reports, and Wall Street is braced for another round of cutbacks. This week, Goldman Sachs announced plans to let go 1000 fixed-income traders.

This only adds to Business Insiders damning list of the 21 Biggest Layoffs of 2012. And next week’s monthly jobs report will most likely be another sad reminder of Obama’s inability to get America working again as well as the unbelievable truth that he has no plans to change anything in the future.

This is the reality of 4 years with Barack Obama as President.  No one, least of all the remaining employed Americans. can afford another four years of Obama’s “Economic Patriotism.”

Ohio in Focus

From the inception of this blog Ohio and Virginia have been 1 and 1a in terms of priorities for both campaigns.  Should one campaign win both those states they almost certainly win the election.  The Romney campaign is spending three days in Ohio to being home what has been a tough nut to crack in an otherwise dead heat race:

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are making multiple stops this week alone in a state that’s trending toward the president, endangering Romney’s White House hopes.

Dueling Campaigns

The popularity of Obama’s auto industry bailout, and a better-than-average local economy, are undermining Romney’s call for Ohioans to return to their GOP-leaning ways, which were crucial to George W. Bush’s two elections. Ohio has 18 electoral votes, seventh most in the nation, and no Republican has won the White House without carrying it. Romney is scrambling to reverse the polls that show Obama ahead. On Tuesday, he made the first of his four planned Ohio stops this week, joining his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, for a rally near Dayton. On Wednesday, Obama will visit the college towns of Kent and Bowling Green, and Romney’s bus tour will stop in the Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo areas.

Campaign Saturation

Not even Florida has seen as many presidential TV campaign ads as Ohio, and neither nominee goes very long without visiting or talking about the state. When Obama touted his “decision to save the auto industry” on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, he mentioned not the major car-making state of Michigan but Ohio, which focuses more on car parts. “One in eight jobs in Ohio is dependent on the auto industry,” Obama said.

The Kasich Konundrum

One problem for Romney is that Ohio’s 7.2 percent unemployment rate is below the national average, as the Republican governor, John Kasich, often reminds residents. “We are up 122,000 jobs,” Kasich told a panel during the Republican convention last month. “The auto industry job growth is 1,200,” he said, perhaps trying to play down that sector’s role. Kasich says he supports Romney and Ohio would do even better if Obama were replaced. But the governor’s understandable pride in the state’s job growth runs counter to Romney’s message that Obama is an economic failure.

An opening for Romney

The Fox News poll suggests there’s room for Romney to advance. Nearly one in three Ohio voters said they are “not at all satisfied” with the way things are going in the country, and an additional 26 percent are “not very satisfied.” Only 7 percent are “very satisfied,” and 34 percent are “somewhat satisfied.” Romney is trying to tap that discontent. But he’s having mixed success with his chief target: white, working class voters who are socially conservative and often have union backgrounds. A generation ago they were called “Reagan Democrats.”

Auto Bailout Boon

In 2009, Obama’s administration used billions of taxpayer dollars to keep General Motors and Chrysler afloat while they reorganized through bankruptcy. Romney said the companies should have been allowed to enter bankruptcy without government help. But an array of officials at the time said the automakers would have gone under without it. GM still owes the government about $25 billion. But many workers in Ohio and elsewhere consider the auto bailout a success. It affected thousands of businesses, some of them fairly small, that make an array of products that go into vehicles, new and used. Jeff Gase, a UAW union member who introduced Obama at a Columbus rally last week, credited the president with saving the paint company where he works. “Mom and pop body shops” buy the paint, Gase said, and now his plant is running “full steam ahead.” Romney notes that many Ohio car dealerships went out of business during the industry reorganization.

Bring the fight to Obama

Still, the Republican is pushing hard. Romney has forced Obama to run ads in Ohio defending the administration’s handling of China trade and the U.S. coal industry. Romney’s ads say government regulations are stifling the energy industry and Obama hasn’t been tough enough on China’s protection of its exporters, two claims the administration rejects. Ohio, meanwhile, appears to be the only state this week where Obama’s campaign is still airing a 60-second ad called “The Question,” which disputes Romney’s claim that Americans are worse off than they were four years ago.

Quinnipiac Indicts Itself in Polling ID Debate

National Journal interviewed pollsters on the great party ID debate and Republican complaints that far too many Democrats are being sampled in the surveys. They gave fair hearings to both the polling outfits and critics like Rick Wilson in yesterday’s New York Daily news who observed thusly:

“Far too many of the public and media polls have set their likely voter screens and models to something looking more optimistic than the 2008 turnout model,” GOP consultant Rick Wilson wrote in Sunday’s New York Daily News, “which even Obama’s most dedicated partisans think is highly unlikely.”

But the real loser in this debate was Doug Schwartz, director of Quinnipiac Polling. In addition to childishly dismissing the complaints as sour grapes by Republicans, Schwartz indicts himself in explaining the controversy:

Schwartz, whose institute conducts polls in battleground states for CBS News and The New York Times, asserts that pollsters who weight according to party identification could miss the sorts of important shifts in the electorate that could be determinative.

“A good example for why pollsters shouldn’t weight by party ID is if you look at the 2008 presidential election and compared it to the 2004 presidential election, there was a 7-point change in the party ID gap,” Schwartz said. Democrats and Republicans represented equal portions of the 2004 electorate, according to exit polls. But, in 2008, the percentage of the electorate identifying as Democrats increased by 2 percentage points, to 39 percent, while Republicans dropped 5 points, to 32 percent.

Asked specifically about GOP complaints regarding the party-ID composition of public surveys, Schwartz said: “They’re the ones trailing in our swing-state polls.” “There are more people who want to identify with the Democratic Party right now than the Republican Party,” he added.

Our entire point is party ID changes from election to election yet Quinnipiac and the other polling outfits act like 2008 is the baseline and they are adjusting upwards in favor of Democrats from there.  2008 was a best-in-a-generation advantage for Democrats.  Obama’s job approval is locked below 50%.  The unemployment rate has been above 8% for 3 years and it’s actually higher if you count the people so despondent they simply quit looking for a job. There isn’t one economic indicator that is positive for President Obama and the economy always surveys as by far the #1 issue for voters (there is never even a close 2nd). Every single survey shows Obama’s 2008 coalition is less enthusiastic in 2012 than in 2008 (especially Hispanics and the youth vote).  But Schwartz and other lemmings use 2008 as the norm and add in more Democrats for flavor because according to Schwartz “more people who want to identify with the Democratic Party right now than the Republican Party.”  Few dispute more people identify with the Democrats which is why polls should be D +2 or D +3.  However, no sane person looks at the litany of reasons outlined above and says I think Obama’s going to have even a bigger advantage in 2012 than he had in 2008.  It’s professionally incompetent to reach such an absurd conclusion only the most politically partisan person could reach.

What a Failing Economy Looks Like: More Americans Added to Food Stamps Than Find Jobs

Every month the Right decries that the unemployment rate is much worse than the statistical measure because any decrease is from Americans simply dropping out of the work-force.  For anyone wondering where these people go, we have the answer. Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard picks up on a Senate Budget Committee graphic detailing of the embarrassment that is President Obama’s economic record.  This is the same Senate that is violating its Constitutional duty in refusing to pass (or even propose) a budget for the last 3 years:

As the chart shows, between April-June 2012 (the most recent three month block for which government data is available), only 200,000 jobs have been created while 265,000 individuals have been added to the food stamp rolls. Additionally, in that time period, 246,000 workers were awarded disability.








Another chart shows that the last three month block is part of a larger trend. The chart, also from the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee, shows that “Workforce Shrinks Since January 2009 While Millions Sign Up For Disability And Food Stamps.”

As the chart shows, since January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, the net change jobs has been negative (-1.3 million), while 5.7 million workers and dependents have been awarded disability and a whopping 15.1 million have been added to the food stamp rolls. “A total of 46,670,373 Americans are now on food stamps,” according to the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee. “The food stamp program has doubled in size since 2008 and quadrupled since 2001.” And the government program isn’t cheap: “Spending on food stamps alone is projected to reach $770 billion over the next decade.”

State of the Race: Nevada

Nevada is a strange nut to fully understand.  A solid majority of voters come from Clark County (home to Las Vegas) which is solidly Democrat whereas the rest of the state is Republican.  The difference in each election is simply how each campaign “minds the gap” shrinking or expanding its margins across these two realities. There is a non-existent state GOP party (which is how you end up with Sharon Angle as your Senate candidate in 2010) that got overrun by Ron Paul zealots (and I mean zealots)  such that the Romney campaign and RNC joined forces to form a fully funded shadow party Team Nevada run by some of the refugees from the hollowed out state party.  At the same time Romney is still licking his wounds from telling the economic truth that the housing market needs to bottom before it can rebound. This was a bit of hard truth Nevadans didn’t (and still don’t) want to hear since much of their prosperity was based on the excesses of the housing bubble and they are still wading through its aftermath. Despite all this the race is still a dead-heat.  Obama’s lead in the polls is much like his lead elsewhere, predicated on a Democrat turnout unlikely to be seen in 2012. Team Obama also got a boost when a the powerful culinary union backed off its threat to sit out the election and will now send its troops to support Obama although at a 20% reduced level than 2008. But the reality is, like many of the Battleground States, while are open to changing the resident in the White House Nevada is still waiting for Mitt Romney to “make the sale” and win their vote:

If there’s anywhere President Obama should be deep in a hole, it’s here in Nevada, which has been flattened by the Great Recession like few other places. The state suffers the highest unemployment rate in the country and for many months led the nation in home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies as well.  But with just over six weeks left until the election, the president holds a small but steady lead in this Western battleground.

The economy

The economy and its lackluster performance is the overriding issue this election: Countless polls and other voter surveys have made that abundantly clear. But for many there is no straight line from disappointment on that front to a vote for Romney or, conversely, any assurance that those feeling better off are ready to support Obama…The economy remains a big concern in Nevada. At 12.1%, joblessness is 4 percentage points higher than the national rate. And, while there are incipient signs of a housing recovery, with foreclosures down and even some improvement in home values, experts say it may be decades before the state’s devastated real estate market and construction industry fully mend.

Party ID dictates views

Still, more than three dozen random interviews with residents across the Reno area — the swing portion of a swing state — found that some things mattered more than dollars and cents to people weighing their votes. Party loyalty was a big factor, a thumb on the scale for Obama as aggressive organizing efforts and a feeble GOP have given Democrats a voter-registration advantage of more than 60,000 statewide. (For perspective, there were about 1 million votes cast in the presidential race in Nevada in 2008.) Democrats…praised Obama for tackling the tough situation he inherited. Republicans said Obama had been as bad, or worse, than they anticipated back in 2008…[lamenting] the “horrendous” debt that has grown dramatically under the president. For those less partisan — the independent and persuadable voters who will probably decide the election — there was less inclination to blame the president for the slow recovery and little faith that any politician, Democrat or Republican, could make a huge difference right away. So other issues came up.

Opening for Romney

[One voter] worries about the effect the president’s healthcare overhaul will have on her husband’s small construction business, which is finally picking up after several tough years. She wants to hear what Romney has to say in the debates before deciding whether to vote for the president again. Others, too, said they might back the former Massachusetts governor if they warmed up to him some and were convinced he could do a better job than Obama, especially in boosting the economy. But it’s not a given, even for those who have had it rough over the last few years.

More than the economy

The simple “are you better off” question worked brilliantly when Ronald Reagan posed it in 1980 as a campaign capper in his debate against Jimmy Carter. But even if most here were quick to say yes or no, their answers only scratched at the deeper calculations many are making as they decide how — and even whether — to vote.

President Obama Has a Wisconsin Problem

With the President lowering himself to actually campaign in Wisconsin for his own job, unlike when he wouldn’t help Democrats in the June recall, Team Romney and the RNC are ready to welcome him to the Badger State with open arms:

When President Obama arrives in Milwaukee today, it will be his first visit to the Badger State in 220 days. In 2008, he carried Wisconsin by 14 points – no surprise, since Democrats have won Wisconsin in every presidential election since 1984. President Obama has yet to give an explanation for this dramatic decrease in support. But the fact is that voters are disappointed that he has not lived up to the promises he made four years ago. Consider what has happened in Wisconsin since he was last here in February:

  1. More than 23 million Americans are still struggling for work – and the nation experienced its 43rd straight month of unemployment above 8%.
  2.  The U.S. Census Bureau released new data, which showed incomes in decline and poverty at record levels.
  3. Food-stamp enrollment climbed to a record 46.7 million.
  4. The national debt surpassed $16 trillion – driving every Wisconsinite’s share of the debt to over $51,000.
  5. The federal government officially reported its fourth straight trillion-dollar deficit, all under President Obama.

President Obama’s failure to turn around the economy and get America working again is the reason Wisconsin voters are looking for a different path. It is one reason Republicans in the state have made significant gains in recent years. For example, since 2008:

  1. Scott Walker was elected Governor by nearly 6 percent.
  2. Ron Johnson defeated three-term incumbent Senator Russ Feingold by nearly 5 percent.
  3. Republicans gained control of the State Assembly.
  4. Republicans won two congressional seats previously held by Democrats.

Since President Obama’s last visit, volunteers have made millions of voter contacts that helped Scott Walker become the first governor in history to beat back a recall effort. President Obama was notably absent during the race, deciding not to appear with the Democratic candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Our grassroots campaign was so effective that Scott Walker went on to defeat his 2010 opponent by a wider margin than when he was first elected.

Mitt Romney has been dedicated to winning Wisconsin since day one. He has already made two post-primary campaign visits to the state to discuss his five-point Plan for a Stronger Middle Class, which will create 240,000 jobs in Wisconsin.  Since Paul Ryan joined the ticket, he has been on the stump in the Badger State three times. Just this week, Ann Romney visited Wisconsin to rally supporters.

Obama’s Achilles Heel Continues to Grow

From the start of this cycle, there has been no question that Obama’s Achilles heel will be the weak economy looming over any distractions he and the media can create. We’ve blogged about some of the underlying weak economic data before but the horrific unemployment situation always looms largest.

Many times you have been told (never by pro-Obama talking heads though) that the unemployment rate only dropped because people were giving up looking for jobs or ran out of benefits — not because people were actually getting jobs. Every Obama shill in the media would trumpet the falling rate even if more Americans were actually out of work.  Now that statistical trick isn’t showing gains for Obama and we are seeing the unemployment rate drift back up — especially in the Battleground States.

Last month we showed the unemployment rate increasing in every Battleground State (save Ohio where it was flat). Now we have the latest data and the results are still not pretty:

  • One state saw a drop of 0.1% in unemployment (Colorado)
  • A large majority of the states have horrible unemployment rates (anything above 7.0%) and climbing
  • The national unemployment average dropped from 8.3% to 8.1% last month because an estimated 368,000 people gave up looking for work
  • Only media and political spin can believe the President benefits because a state’s individual rate is marginally better than the nightmarish national average of 8.1%

Battleground State Breakdown of Unemployment Increase:

Battleground State Unemployment % Monthly Change 2-Month Change
Nevada 12.1 +0.1 +0.5
Michigan 9.4 +0.4 +0.8
Florida 8.8 unchanged +0.2
Colorado 8.2 -0.1 unchanged
Pennsylvania 8.1 +0.2 +0.5
Wisconsin 7.5 +0.2 +0.5
Ohio 7.2 unchanged unchanged
Virginia 5.9 unchanged +0.2
New Hampshire 5.7 +0.3 +0.6
Iowa 5.5 +0.2 +0.4

Voter Contact Exceeds 1 Million Mark: Nevada and Colorado

Something important to note about the GOP ground game post just below, the Washington Post only talked about the large impact outside groups are having in assisting Republicans.  But the RNC under Reince Priebus and previously Michael Steele not only aggressively sought out voter registrations months ago but also implemented Super Saturdays nationwide to knock on doors, register voters and call on behalf of Romany and Republicans.  These were monthly dry runs for what is always a chaotic turn-out-the vote effort on election day.  Well, the results across the Battlegrounds have been staggering versus the 2008 campaign.  Buried at the bottom of this ABC report about bolstering Colorado and Nevada efforts (we blogged the Nevada boost 2 days ago) are incredible metrics showing a dramatically more robust effort in 2012:

With polls showing Mitt Romney locked in tight races with President Obama in Colorado and Nevada, the Republican National Committee — in conjunction with the Romney campaign — is beefing up its operation in the two western battlegrounds. GOP officials tell ABC News that the RNC is “adding additional staff” in both states — some of whom are being re-assigned from their posts in New Mexico (though the officials noted they “are maintaining offices and staff” there.) … GOP sources tell ABC they have already “passed the 1 million voter contact mark” in both states.


In Nevada, Republicans say they have made “4 times more phone calls and 12 times more door knocks than this time in 2008″…


… and in Colorado: “4 times more phone calls and 6 times more door knocks than this time” four years ago.


Other data points the Republicans cite: A 12 percent unemployment rate in Nevada and an 8.3 percent unemployment rate in Colorado where some 224,000 residents are out of work.

Romney Supporters Wooing Black Voters

Specifically in Milwaukee. David Fredoso has the goods:

When President Obama arrives in Wisconsin on Saturday, he’ll be greeted by a cable ad buy aimed at black voters in Milwaukee. The spot, funded by the Black Republican PAC, intersperses statistics on the economic well-being of African Americans in the Obama era — “unemployment, home foreclosures and food security” — with clips from Obama’s speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, in which he famously urged his audience to “quit complaining.” The cable ad buy is for $100,000, according to the group, which will cover spots on BET, ESPN, MSNBC, The Oprah Winfrey Network and Oxygen.

Romney Super-PAC Running Ads in Wisconsin and Michigan

Wisconsin has been unsurprisingly percolating with President Obama stumping in the state he won by 14 points four years ago but Michigan has received scant attention by the campaigns. Now the pro-Romney Super-PAC Restore Our Future (this PAC are run by ex-Romney people) is putting up a major ad buy of $2.2 million across the states:

For July, the latest figures available, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 7.3% (up .3% since June) but still below the national average of 8.3%. Michigan stayed above that mark at 9.0% – up four tenths of a point from the previous month. Restore’s buy comes after both presidential campaigns last week invested in Wisconsin, and both Vice President Joe Biden and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who represents Wisconsin in the House, visited the state this week. In its electoral map, CNN rates the state as a toss-up. Michigan is rated as “lean Obama” on CNN’s electoral map. Romney was born in the state, and his father served as governor of Michigan. This is the first buy for Restore Our Future since before the Republican convention last month.

What Mitt Romney Should Say

I like that Mitt Romney didn’t back away from his comments leaked from a private fundraiser, especially since it is nothing new and simply just a more relaxed candid version of what he says in his stump speeches.  But he can really run with this if he focuses the message on that persuadable middle he mentions in his remarks.  His script should go something like this:

I have a message for that middle of America getting squeezed in today’s economy.  Help is on the way.  My solutions will be for all Americans but I know plenty of people don’t want to change the status quo.  That is the strength of a democracy, we have choices.  But I want to talk to the person who has lost out in the Obama economy — the person who lived within their means during boom and bust times and pays their bills.  They bought the house they could afford and they make their mortgage payments on time.  Who is looking out for them? Their grocery bill has skyrocketed while home values sag.  They are working longer hours for no increase in pay. To fill up their car at the gas station, their costs have doubled. Their tax burden grows. Their days grow longer, their breaks grow shorter and the deficit only tax-payers can rescue gets even larger. And what about the people who have fallen in this Obama economy and want to get that new job? Where is Obama’s plan for a second term?  He offers no solutions except more of the same.  We’ve tried that and it failed.  I want to offer those people a chance at a new job –a roaring economy that puts people back to work, not on government doles the country can no longer afford. The people who want to get back to work are who I want to talk to.  A growing economy offers greater long term help to that middle part of America than any quick fix government solution that helps in the moment but gets in the way of the longer-term solution — a new job, affordable food at the grocery store, cheaper gas at the pump, stable housing prices, a brighter future and a secure legacy for our children and grandchildren.  That is the middle of America I am talking to.

This will contrast with today’s news after four years of Obama economics:

Obama Dismisses Jobs Report of 330k New Jobs Created in One Month

Because it was under George Bush:


New Battleground State: Obamavania

Earlier today Jay Cost posted this graph regarding the jobs gap between Obama’s promises if we pass his $1tr stimulus and today’s reality:

Moe Lane saw that graphic, thought about all those jobless filling out an entire state in Obama’s America.  And with that we had the birth of Obamavania:

Turns Out Sarah Palin Was Right

Obama’s Achilles Heel Grows Larger as Unemployment Worsens

All the fancy word in the world won’t change the fact that the employment situation in the United States is horrible. Last night Barack Obama gave an impassioned speech filled with soaring rhetoric that failed to mention even in passing a plan to get America back to work. Pet projects and crony capitalism that have been the hallmark of his Administration were the closest thing he came to when discussing jobs but the occasion job here and there won’t resurrect a nation of 300+ million people. Today’s anemic jobs picture is a stark reminder that 4 years into the Obama Presidency on the #1 issue to most Americans all his soaring rhetoric does is mask the truth he has no plan to turn this economy around:

U.S. job growth slowed in August, signaling a stalling economy that could mute any post-convention momentum for President Barack Obama and spur the Federal Reserve to take further steps to stimulate the economy. Nonfarm employment was up by a seasonally adjusted 96,000 and figures for the previous two months were revised down, the Labor Department said Friday. The report portrayed a sluggish economy that continues to move sideways, leaving few opportunities for the nation’s 12.5 million unemployed.

The unemployment rate—which is politically salient and comes from a separate survey than the jobs data—fell to 8.1% from 8.3%. That was because an estimated 368,000 people gave up looking for work. Throughout this year, the unemployment rate has bounced between 8.1% and 8.3%. Meantime, the labor force participation rate, which is the share of the population that is working or looking for work, fell to its lowest level since 1981.

Searching for good news in the guts of the report, economists found little. The average workweek was flat and July’s figures were revised downward. Average earnings slipped slightly. The weak payroll numbers, taken with other reports that indicate a manufacturing slowdown, suggest growth isn’t picking up and remove a final hurdle standing in the way of the Fed proceeding with new action.

While the U.S. economy has been adding jobs every month since October 2010, the economy—and in particular the labor market—has continuously struggled to hit the kind of velocity needed to bring down the unemployment rate. This is largely because the economy’s legs have never quite moved in unison.

For instance, the factory sector was strong for much of the recovery but the housing market remained weak. Today the housing market is perking up just as the factories shift downward. Manufacturers shed 15,000 jobs in August. This has left the country prone to outside shocks, such as supply disruptions brought on by the Japanese tsunami disaster last year and the current pressures over the European debt crisis.

The Labor Department on Friday said private companies accounted for all of the growth in August payrolls, adding 103,000 jobs during the month. Governments, meanwhile, shed 7,000 positions as state and local governments cut payrolls. In the private sector, employment rose at restaurants and bars, in the professional- and technical-services sector, in health care and in the utilities sector. In another sign of a weak labor market, average earnings ticked down by one cent to $23.52 an hour, while the average workweek was unchanged at 34.4 hours.

A broader measure of unemployment—which includes job seekers as well as those in part-time jobs—fell to 14.7% in August from 15.0% the previous month.

Previewing Obama’s Speech

Bill Clinton’s speech was a bot of a wild card since he talks extemporaneously on any subject at length so anything was possible once he stepped to the podium.  President Obama is very different.  He relies on soaring rhetoric and aspirational words to move voters into his column.  His problem this year is his rhetoric must overcome the economic reality of his policies.  Ben Feller takes a pretty decent stab at what to expect tonight:

Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday will be about promise – the kind he’ll say he has kept, and the kind of feeling he wants to stir once more. He will take people back to the start of his presidency to make a case why their lives are better, but his bigger imperative is to sell himself as better for middle-class America than Republican Mitt Romney.

Gone is the newness of the last time he stood up to accept the nomination of his party. Obama, the graying incumbent, will not try to recreate it. Instead, he will whittle the election down to a choice, spelling out his vision of how to create economic opportunity for all, and warning that Romney would restore trickle-down ideas that Obama says were quietly gutting the economy for years before crashing it completely. That’s the policy part. Obama will also try to summon inspiration again that America is right on the cusp of what it could be.

Democrats opted for their convention’s rented basketball arena instead of a much larger, open-air football stadium for Obama, wary of the safety and political risks if rain came pouring down. Yet louder, tighter quarters of energized supporters could present just the optics Obama wants on TV. He must give his backers and undecided voters a reason to mobilize behind him.

In a nation in which more than 23 million people are unemployed or underemployed, Obama will focus instead on the millions who have found work, and how many more can, too. He will talk of education and energy and innovation and job training. He will ask for more time.

Obama’s speech will cover the dominant themes of his campaign. Those will include government as an enforcer of fairness and consumer protection, leadership as demanding compromise with the other party, financial stability as requiring that rich people pay more taxes. He will likely portray Romney, who made a fortune in business, as so focused on limited government that he would leave people to struggle on their own and to hope for the best.

By night’s end, he wants teetering voters to emerge with two takeaways about him – a sense that he made tough decisions, and a sense of clarity about what he would do in a second term. Expect him to talk about ending the war in Iraq and promising to close the still-raging war in Afghanistan, particularly after mocking Romney for never addressing the latter in his own convention speech. Every speaker at the Democratic convention has contributed to the collective message that Obama wants to send of a diverse party that protects gay rights and women’s reproductive rights.

Yet it all comes back to the economy, Obama’s biggest burden. “It’s clear the president just hasn’t lived up to his promises,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “Jobs have declined, incomes have plummeted and household costs are skyrocketing.”…The make-or-break election for the nation, as he likes to call it, is one for his political future as well.

Florida is Key for Romney

The selection of Tampa for this year’s Convention was no accident by the Republican National Committee and then-Chairman Michael Steele.  For all Steele’s missteps, placing the Convention in this vital state for Romney was a strategically brilliant move which contrasts greatly with the embarrassment going on with the Democrats in North Carolina were they can’t even name the stadium they are holding their rallies due to special interest control over their party (it’s Bank of America Stadium for those who don’t know). The Wall Street Journal looks at a state Barack Obama would like to win but Mitt Romney must win:

If Mitt Romney is to win the presidency, he probably needs to win Florida. To that end, his campaign has set out this week to make sure the state’s voters feel a lot more appreciated than its delegates. The convention is peppered with high-profile Floridians as speakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Attorney General Pam Bondi. After the convention wraps up, Mr. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, are set to head to Lakeland, just east of here, for a Florida “farewell” rally Friday. The campaign also will deploy a host of surrogates in coming weeks to barnstorm the state. The race in Florida currently is a dead heat. The Real Clear Politics average of state polls shows President Barack Obama leading the former Massachusetts governor by 1%.

Romney’s advantage

In Mr. Romney’s favor are a sluggish economy and higher-than-average unemployment, both of which have put Floridians in a sour mood and possibly amenable to change. The housing market continues to hurt. And Republicans dominate the state, holding the governorship, both houses of the legislature and every statewide office but one.

Vaunted (and Expensive) Obama ground game

To counter that, the Obama campaign has been organizing for almost a year and a half and has 73 offices in the state. The president also is benefiting from long-term demographic changes that are making Florida more racially and ethnically diverse.

Demographics play a major role

In 1996, the state’s registered voters were 81% white, 10% black and 7% “other”—primarily Hispanic. Today, registered voters are 68% white, 13% black and 14% Hispanic. The Hispanic growth has been fueled largely by non-Cuban Latinos, who tilt Democratic. The totals don’t equal 100% due to “unknown” and similar answers by voters.

Continue reading

Romney’s Play for Michigan

Michigan is one of the more unusual Battleground States this year.  Few people put it in the toss-up category at the start of the campaign, MSNBC (I know) refuses to include it among its swing states and even “conservative” (I know) Joe Scarborough calls the state “fool’s gold” the same way the GOP repeatedly competes fro Pennsylvania only to realize late in the game they wasted time and money. Marc Thiessen takes some time to look at Michigan and Romney’s efforts to convert this once deep blue state that is a deep shade of purple in 2012:

It is no surprise that in the run-up to this week’s Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made their first joint campaign appearance in the key battleground state of Ohio. More interesting is that Romney and Ryan took their pre-convention tour to a Midwestern state that went for Barack Obama by double digits in 2008: Michigan.

No GOP presidential candidate has carried Michigan in almost a ­quarter-century, and four years ago Obama won here in a 16-point landslide. This November, however, Romney sees Michigan as ripe for a pickup.

Most polls show Obama leading here narrowly, but Romney strategists point out that their man is nearly tied with the president before the TV ad war between the campaigns has even begun. Michigan is one of 11 states where the Romney campaign is fully staffed with a battleground footprint and money flowing in.

A number of factors suggest that Romney has a shot in Michigan. For one thing, since Obama’s 2008 victory, Michigan voters put the House in GOP hands and have elected a Republican governor, Rick Snyder, who campaigned (like Romney) on his experience in the private sector. Since taking office, Snyder has erased a $1.5 billion budget deficit and cut corporate taxes by $1 billion a year — and Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped from over 13 percent in 2010 to 8.6 percent in June. If Michigan voters are comfortable enough to put a chief executive in charge in Lansing, it stands to reason they would also put a chief executive in charge in Washington.Despite the recent progress, Michigan is not yet out of the woods economically. The state is still in its 48th straight month of above-8-percent unemployment and has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation.

The Romney campaign has also been highlighting two other issues that have particular resonance in Michigan. One is the administration’s contraception and abortifacient mandate, which hurts the president with the socially conservative Reagan Democrats in such places as Macomb County. There are 2.4 million Catholic voters in Michigan, and Obama’s assault on religious liberty has alienated many of them. In May, the Michigan Catholic Conference filed suit against the Obama administration over the Health and Human Services mandate — and Catholic priests will be preaching against it in parishes across the state between now and Election Day. Look for Romney to underscore his opposition to the HHS mandate — and his endorsement by Lech Walesa— with these Catholic voters, many of whom are of Polish and Ukrainian descent.

The second issue is welfare reform. Welfare fraud is fresh on people’s minds here, thanks to the news of a Detroit area woman who was recently caught continuing to collect benefits despite winning a $1 million state lottery prize. Michiganders have a strong work ethic and remain justly proud of their state’s role as a pioneer of welfare reform in the 1990s. The charge that Obama is gutting welfare reform hits a nerve here.

For these and other reasons, some Michigan Democrats are increasingly worried that Obama may be taking victory here for granted.

Connecting the Dots — Obama is Likely Losing Already

When I dig deeper in polls where President Obama is leading by a slim margin, often times I come away with the conclusion that Mitt Romney more than likely is leading in those same polls by a slim margin due to the over-sampling of Democrats, the nature of the poll (registered voters) and some similar anomaly I do not expect to occur this November like record turnouts of minorities.  At the same time, the behavior out of the Obama campaign like classlessly trying to upstage the GOP convention with Biden in Tampa and Obama hitting Battleground States — completely in contravention to the long standing tradition to give each party its moment — speaks more towards the desperation of a losing campaign than the confidence of a campaign leading most polls. Ed Driscoll over at Pajamas Media blogged about John Nolte over at media watchdog Big Journalism and Erick Erickson at Red State who pieced together numerous anecdotal incidents to come to the same conclusion, Barack Obama is probably already losing this election and both he and his campaign knows this.  These were the findings:

  • Crowd sizes at Obama rallies are far smaller than they were in 2008 and even smaller then the campaign designs
  • Media coverage of Obama and Romney never gives crowd sizes in an effort to avoid the negative contrast for Obama
  • The documentary 2016: Obama’s America about Obama’s  early life shaping his post-America views is #3 in the country but you won’t hear anything in the press unless you look for it
  • The shrillness of the Obama campaign is more like a campaign so far behind and so in fear of losing, they feel they have nothing to lose. From “felon” to “chains” to “Mitt killed my wife”
  • When the unemployment rate increases, the media tells us that’s a good thing.
  • When the economy (GDP) shrinks from 4.1 to 1.5%, the media still call it “the recovery.”
  • When an idiot in Missouri says something stupid about rape and abortion, the media launches into a week-long narrative accusing Republicans of being soft on rape.
  • No mention that Obama supports infanticide. Romney opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is at risk. Yesterday CNN released a poll showing 62% of the American people agree with Romney and only 32% with Obama.
  • From Mark Halperin, to Jake Tapper, to Chuck Todd, more journalists are actually now admitting just how pliable the media is when it comes to Barack Obama’s spin
  • All week long, as the economy deteriorates, most every anchor at most every news outlet, most every editorialist in most every paper, and most every “centrist” and liberal pundit has been pointing out the GOP’s extremist abortion position.
  • Few, if any, have pointed out that Mitt Romney’s position on abortion is actually more mainstream than Barack Obama’s.
  • Few, if any, have wanted to go beyond Politifact’s ham-handed cover for Obama on infanticide and get into what Barack Obama actually said in 2002. Hear him come out for infanticide yourself right here. Remember, the media is hiding behind the left-leaning Politifact (and yes, it does lean left) to avoid having to deal with this.
  • They are doing it for the exact same reason Joe Biden is claiming the GOP will put black people back in chains and why Barack Obama would rather talk about uteri than jobs ? they all know Barack Obama is losing this thing.

All Roads to the White House Run Through Iowa

President Obama spent three full days in the Hawkeye State and Mitt Romney sent his newly announced Vice president there on his first solo campaign stop. Byron York builds on Karl Rove’s 3-2-1 strategy and targets Iowa as the final domino to fall for Romney to win the White House:

To judge by recent campaign activity, if Romney is fortunate to make it to the brink of electoral victory, the major battle for those last few electoral votes could be in the state where it all started: Iowa. “I believe Iowa is the key to the presidency,” says Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Iowa social conservative group the Family Leader. “Our six electoral votes will be crucial.”

Of course, for months leading up to January’s GOP caucuses, Iowa was home to some of the most anti-Romney conservatives in the GOP. Many Iowa Republicans tried Michele Bachmann, and then Rick Perry, and then Herman Cain, and then Newt Gingrich, and then Rick Santorum, who beat Romney by a handful of votes. Feelings about Romney didn’t change overnight. But they’ve changed now. “The desire to get Barack Obama out of the White House is enough, and now the addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket has been motivation to get people not only to vote but to volunteer and work,” says Matt Strawn, former head of the Iowa GOP who is now running the Republican group GOPAC’s operations in Iowa.

Vander Plaats, who backed Santorum in the primaries, recently held a Family Leadership Summit in Waukee, featuring Santorum along with Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry. “We had about 1,200 of the most influential conservatives in Iowa, and they were excited,” says Vander Plaats. “They were excited about getting rid of Obama, excited about Ryan being on the ticket.” And if they have any lingering doubts about Romney, they’ve been put aside in the effort to beat Obama.

Obama has helped turn Iowa into a Republican state. Strawn remembers his first day as head of the state GOP, when there were 113,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Iowa. Now, there are 20,000 more Republicans than Democrats. Still, Strawn calls Iowa “the absolute purest of tossups.” “There’s no question the opportunity exists for Romney to close the deal with those Iowans who voted for Obama the last time but are willing to vote against him now,” he says. “But the case still has to be made.”

Battleground State Unemployment Picture Worsens Across-the-Board

Somehow with Paul Ryan drawing relentlessly overflow crowds, polls showing Romney-Ryan momentum and the economy remaining one of the worst in a century, Obama cheerleaders in the media claim week-after-week that Obama is “winning” the campaign messaging and Romney is struggling.  Today’s medicare fight is one the Romney campaign brought to the forefront (and not without good reason).  Any fears of Romney’s winning argument on the economy  being supplanted by the medicare fight ignores one incontrovertible fact: the bad economy will rear its head no matter what political campaigns and the media may want.  The Monthly jobless claims report is only the starkest example.  Even two weeks after the report we get stories like today’s which provide the state-by-state granularity revealing:

  • Not one Battleground state had an improved jobs picture in July
  • A large majority of the states have horrible unemployment rates (anything above 7.0%)
  • Only media and political spin can believe the President benefits because a state’s individual rate is marginally better than the nightmarish national average of 8.3%

The Labor Department reported Friday that 44 states in all saw their jobless rate go up, with four states seeing no change at all. Only Idaho and Rhode Island — along with Washington, D.C. — saw their rates drop last month. Even though the unemployment rate remains north of 8 percent, some analysts expected Obama to get a boost because many of the swing states that both campaigns are targeting have jobless rates below the national average. Nevada, which continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the country, saw its rate jump back to 12 percent, up from June’s 11.6 percent. New Hampshire (now 5.4 percent), Pennsylvania (7.9 percent) and Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin (7.3 percent) each saw rises of 0.3 percentage points.

Battleground State Breakdown of Unemployment Increase:

Battleground State Unemployment % Monthly Change
Nevada 12.0 +0.4
Michigan 9.0 +0.4
Florida 8.8 +0.2
Colorado 8.3 +0.1
Pennsylvania 7.9 +0.3
Wisconsin 7.3 +0.3
Ohio 7.2 unchanged
Virginia 5.9 +0.2
New Hampshire 5.4 +0.3
Iowa 5.3 +0.2

Note: North Carolina which I do not blog about (and you won’t read about 30 days from now) had an unemployment rate of 9.6% and a monthly increase in unemployment of +0.2 percentage points. Also Ohio’s rate was unchanged but 24k fewer people were employed in Ohio than the prior month.

The Skinny

So many things fly through my twitter feed that I find interesting but not enough to expand into a blog post, I thought I’d combine then into one post:

  • jimgeraghty: Unemployment is 8.3%, no press conferences in eight weeks, and President Obama is doing an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
  • BuzzFeedAndrew: Joe Biden in 2001 praising Paul Ryan personally:”I don’t want to hear Democrats say he is a bad guy.” http://t.co/hnDLWCWD
  • TheFix “We want this debate. We need this debate.” — Paul Ryan in Ohio on Medicare.
  • Mike O’Brien@mpoindc Ryan on Biden’s ‘chains’ comment: “These are the kind of things you say when you’re desperate in a campaign.”
  • Jon G.@ExJon The Wisconsin unrest and Occupy movement were test runs for November. It’s going to get ugly.
  • Jon G.@ExJon The left will get a lot more violent the closer we get to the election. Especially if Romney starts pulling ahead in the polls. #BePrepared
  • Jay Cost@JayCostTWS  This is why those polls of Hispanics showing historically unprecedented leads for O should be doubted. http://bit.ly/N3Xwrq
  • Gabriel Malor@gabrielmalor  L. O. L. RT @politico Obama is preferred by people who don’t vote, according to a new poll out today: http://politi.co/Pl8exH
  • Jay Cost@JayCostTWS   Price of gas is up three cents in week. Dunno where predictive models suggest it’s going, but if prices don’t break soon…HUGE campaign issue
  • zerohedge@zerohedge  Brent over $116

What You Should Know About the Jobs Report

Bottom line:  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.

As predicted there is enough in this report for each partisan side to make some nominal hay for their side following this morning’s jobs report.

  • The Obama campaign will tout the micro-gains — an uptick in jobs last month, especially the private sector (up 172k)
  • The Romney campaign will tout the macro-weakness — an uptick in overall unemployment rate to 8.3% which would have been 8.4% if people hadn’t dropped out of the labor force again

They are both right. It is simply a matter of whether you are predisposed to give Obama a pass on the economy or you think the economy can and should do much better. Today’s report has plenty for both sides:

U.S. payrolls increased by a seasonally adjusted 163,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday, but the unemployment rate, obtained by a separate survey of U.S. households, ticked up one-tenth of a percent to 8.3%. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected a gain of 95,000 in payrolls and an 8.2% jobless rate. The latest payroll numbers are encouraging after three months of weak job creation, but the figures still aren’t enough to lower the unemployment rate, and hiring remains well below the pace set at the start of the year.

June and May payroll numbers were revised with only a small net effect—June payrolls rose 64,000 compared with the initially reported 80,000, and May was up 87,000 versus an earlier estimate of 77,000. The Labor Department Friday said private companies accounted for all of the growth in July payrolls, adding 172,000 jobs during the month. Governments, meanwhile, shed 9,000 positions. The federal work force shrank by 2,000.

Average earnings edged up by two cents to $23.52 an hour, while the average workweek was unchanged at 34.5 hours. A broader measure of unemployment—which includes job seekers as well as those in part-time jobs—rose to 15.0% in July from 14.9% the previous month.

Quick thoughts:

  • Much of the private-sector job improvements were in non-sustainable areas.  The manufacturing gains were due to auto manufacturers simply not shutting their plants like normal (+13k). This means 13,000 jobs were added back into the overall number that really weren’t new jobs created.  Also leisure and hospitality accounted for another +29k — these are waitresses and bartenders (or similar), not exactly the backbone of an economy.
  • This continues to be the longest stretch of 8% or higher unemployment since the Great Depression, 42 straight months.
  • If the labor force participation rate was the same as when Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate would be 11.0%.
  • Unemployment for blacks fell from 14.4 percent to 14.1 percent, while the rate for Latinos slid from 11 percent to 10.3 percent. The unemployment rate for teenagers edged higher to 23.8 percent.
  • Average hourly earnings are up 1.7% over the last year, which is actually the same rate as inflation (that’s June12/June11 for inflation since we don’t have July’s price report yet).  Flat real paychecks are better than falling paychecks, but that’s a slow pace of wage growth, consistent with all the slack in the job market.
  • The seasonal adjustments factor is rightly confusing.  Don’t waste your time on it.  Just know that this occurs every month and it is a fudge factor that does shake the credibility of reports. The effect this month was seen in the household survey showing that the actual amount of Americans working dropped by 195,000, with the net job gain resulting primarily from seasonal adjustments in the establishment survey. This means no jobs were actually created, just the seasonal adjustment pushing the released figure into positive territory.
  • Regardless of the noise the seasonal adjustment creates, looking at the macro-trend you see a sputtering economy with weak job growth.