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Friday, June 18, 2010

When Will the Improving Jobs Picture Benefit Democrats?

Just in case you missed, it, we’ve been highlighting two important trends here at Gallup:

  1. Republicans in general continue to be in a positive position in terms of the coming fall midterm elections. They are doing well on our generic ballot, which ends up being very predictive of the midterm election outcomes. My colleague Jeff Jones will post a story on Monday morning showing that the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats so far this year is of historic proportions. In other words, all indicators continue to suggest a very strong Republican year at the ballot box this coming Nov. 2.
  2. At the same time, important Gallup economic trends continue to move in a positive direction. I would pay particular attention to our job creation index (JCI). As my colleague Dennis Jacobe has noted, the JCI is now at a 20-month high point. Similarly, our underemployment index is trending in a positive direction. (And consumer spending in general is trending up.)
Is it possible that these two trends are on a collision course of sorts?

There is the operative hypothesis that the Democrats will do better to the degree that the economy is doing better. As a Bloomberg Businessweek news story Friday put it: "The economy will be a top issue in the November elections that will determine which party controls the House and Senate." Huffington Post blogger Robert Creamer says: "That's why the single most important thing Democrats in Congress can do to improve the political climate this fall is anything that creates or saves more jobs." And so on and so forth.

The news hook for the Bloomberg Businessweek news story, of course, was President Obama's Friday trip to Ohio, during which he highlighted the "summer of recovery" he claims lies before the nation. As Obama reminded his audience: "Since I was here last year, we’ve begun to see progress all across the country."

Now, some may argue that it's too late. That the impact of the recession and poor economy is already imprinted on voters' minds and that nothing is going to change that between now and Election Day. On the other hand lies the real possibility that if by next fall Americans were to move to the point where they acknowledged that the economy was taking off (i.e., more and more jobs and a rising stock market), the Democrats would be able to mitigate their worst case scenario and downsize seat losses.

Keep in mind that we do not yet see a marked improvement in our Gallup economic confidence index. Attitudes about the economy are trailing the harder evidence that the economy is doing better. This may be why we see no major pickup in our generic ballot tracking yet for Democrats.

But the economy is clearly a major variable we will be watching all summer. There is no question that our measures show a definite, demonstrable uptick in hiring at this point. The degree to which this continues, and in turn is translated into a relative Democratic advantage, remains to be seen.


Anonymous said...
June 18, 2010 at 5:20 PM  

Uh, it's a big honkin' LIE that the jobs picture is improving. 95% of the jobs created last month are Census jobs and temporary. Castles made of sand, folks.

Anonymous said...
June 19, 2010 at 12:29 PM  

While your observations are valid based on your data, Iam afraid that data on jobs and the economy may not nearly be the whole picture that the voters are evaluating before the midterm elections.
While the economy seems to be slowly and unevenly recovering. The jobs picture has been been highly volatile with advances and retreats. The debt contagion threating Europe may well affect the economy and jobs here. It is even possible that this represents the "second phase" of the economic crisis that will plunge us into another recession or worse. People are aware of this and are frightened. The Democrats entire agenda (which has only begun to be implemented) involves great increases in taxation, spending, and government control. Even the small portion of this plan that has been passed already has cast serious doubt on the financial stability of the US. The Democrats appear entirely unwilling to deal substantively with the federal deficit/debt issue which almost assures a fate for the US similar to Europe's. This issue will not be resolved by election time in November and will weigh heavily on incumbants, of which Democrats are a large majority.
Additionally, this new crisis of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has created doubt amoung many voters as to wheather this administration is up to the job that they were elected for. I cant comment on wheather its fair to judge a president on how he handles an environmental crisis which is either an act of God or is created by a corporate entity such as BP. However, the fact remains that presidents are judged by these crises that are not of their creation ie Katrina, NO, and George Bush. Depending on how the current gulf crisis turns out, this could be another large drag on the Democrats/incumbants in November.
I believe Obama and the Democrats (including Republican incumbants) are near a critical juncture at which a majority of the electorate decides that they are not up to the job at hand (examples include Hoover and the Depression, LBJ and the Vietnam war, Carter and the hostage rescue, and BushII and Lehman Bros). Once a president crosses this threshold he and his party are thrashed at the polls. I believe we are close to this point...

Anonymous said...
June 20, 2010 at 2:42 PM  

This completely misses the big picture. By a mile.

1. You take somebody out of a 100K+ corporate job. Gallup's job numbers go down.

2. You put the same person into a temporary door to door job for the Census. Gallup's job numbers go up.

The raw numbers mean nothing for the political outcome. You have completely missed the issue of QUALITY of employment.

Sacto Joe said...
June 22, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

I actually agree that there is a collision course of a sort - a collision between lies and truth. On the Gulf oil issue, the truth is that we were all lied to, up to and including the President. And the lie is that this is somehow the President's fault.

The truth is that the economy is healing. The lie is that somehow President Obama has somehow been instrumental in its downfall, or has very much say over what a divided Congress will eventually put on his desk, if anything.

The truth is that by this November things will look markedly different. The lie is that people who have been whipped into a frenzy by lies will stay that way until then.

mike thornton said...
June 23, 2010 at 6:48 AM  

The Democrats spout that the jobs picture is brightening by 200,000 jobs a month. Those jobs are ALL either Census or temporary jobs! Gallup is now bending the subject to make it look like all is well. What will happen when a million or so Census workers are let go in the coming few months?

The unemployed are getting rejected by recruiters for being unemployed and there's a great deal of ageism when it comes to hiring.

With millions of unemployed being denied benefits, where will spending come from to increase the number of jobs?

We have seen the top of the stimulus run and now with that stimulus being withdrawn the job market will slow.

To see how difficult it STILL is to get a job, visit

Anonymous said...
June 27, 2010 at 8:07 PM  

it seem had everyone forgot the party that started the banks bailout and all the job lose
in the first place they started a war with no way to pay for it but after 9/11 no one
ask how are we gone to pay for it I hope come
nov the people remember put the same party back in who got us in this mess

Anonymous said...
July 3, 2010 at 9:37 AM  

At this point the economy appears to be turning the other direction. New home and car sales fell by thirty percent in the last two months. More than a million people lost unemployment this month. Every major statistical indictor suggests an economic slow down. It has taken a year and a half to improve the jobless numbers by 4 tenths of a single percentage point. This administration is in the minority opinion most major issues. While the author is clearly on the left, according to this organization conservatives outnumber liberals by more than two to one. Job creation would help but, at current rates, the numbers won’t fall below nine percent for another year or more. After eight years of attacks from the press on the federal government for everything from Katrina to 911 conspiracies, many people are not excited about expanding government’s role in day to day life. Even left leaning people realize that another Nixon or Bush is likely at some point, so increasing federal power might not be in their own best interest.

Anonymous said...
July 4, 2010 at 11:50 PM  

I dont know by what sane person thinks that the GOP will be good for the economy and the jobs, they got us in the mess in the first place and are blocking every attempt to stimulate the economy and help the unemployed.

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