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2012 Election. Obama's re-election. How employment will affect the vote.

Updated on January 22, 2011

Where the jobs are

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. May, 2010
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. May, 2010 | Source

Unemployment Trends as of December 24, 2010


The above graph released by the Labor Department on December 30, 2010, was eagerly awaited by the wonks in the two parties, as will be its subsequent iterations.

The Wall St. Journal commented: "Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in more than two years, offering another hopeful sign that the job market is improving as the economy regains some momentum." Which means that if the graph marks a trend, it favors the Democrats.

Being the Wall St. Journal, however, that is, the product of economists, the one hand had to retract the good news the other hand offered. "But the latest drop may have been exaggerated by Christmas week, which complicates how claims are counted. New claims fell sharply around the same time the past two years and then moved higher in January."

But, of course, economists are more than ambidextrous and can easily call up a third hand when they need it, though usually from an outside source, as here. "Still, the report was seen as encouraging. 'While the degree of decline may be overstated because of the seasonal issues, the trend is pretty clear,' said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo. 'That gives me a lot of hope and expectation for better job growth going forward.' He expects the economy to add about 160,000 jobs a month on average in 2011, compared with about 90,000 a month in 2010. But at that pace, it would still take years to replace the 8.4 million jobs lost after the recession started."

There's the rub, as the Bard might say. What the Democrat (and, of course, Republican) strategists read is the last sentence containing, "it would still take years to replace the 8.4 million jobs lost." What does "take years" mean?

Will unemployment be skidding downward in the graph by the time, say, September 2012 rolls around? Will the people with the new jobs thankfully go to the polls to vote for Obama? Or, will those still left without jobs march vengefully to vote for his Republican opponent? Or, a third party candidate?

The Devil's in the graphs and charts as they come burbling up from the economic bureaucrats and private experts.

Read the full Wall St. Journal article

Obama's Race for Re-Election Isn't Against Republicans, It's Against Unemployment

Obama's real race for re-election isn't totally against Republican candidates, no matter how much hair they have, how many times they say "You betcha," or how much tea they consume. The 400 pound gorilla in the race is the unemployment rate-as the rate goes up, the president's chances for re-election go down.

Another big factor is how many of the unemployed will vote at all in 2012. They may be so down that they won't make it to the polls, which, to speak with the inhumane calculation of a political surgeon, would be good for the President, though I'm sure Obama tries not to discuss such nasty stuff with his advisers. And the voting rate of discouraged job-seekers is probably not easily predictable.

In July, 2010, the U.S. Federal Reserve printed the following estimate:
"The unemployment rate is projected to average 8.3 to 8.7 percent in 2011, up from 8.1 to 8.5 percent in the April estimate. The Fed is also less optimistic about the unemployment data in 2012, lifting the estimate to 7.1 to 7.5 percent from 6.6 to 7.5 percent."

In its report for August, 2010, the Federal reserve said:
"Likely reflecting the relatively weaker near-term growth profile, the Committee shaded up its already dour unemployment rate projections through 2012. Th e unemployment rate projections for 2012 now range from 6.8 percent to 7.9 percent, well above the Committee’s longer-run 'sustainable rate' projections."

Some projections from other sources see the unemployment rate for 2012 as around 8%.

Even with unemployment numbers around 7% or 8% it is possible that Obama can be re-elected. Inflation will probably hold steady at a low rate. Housing values may well edge up slowly.

And other factors, of course will weigh in. Such as whether people have begun to have positive experiences with health care reforms, credit card reforms, etc.

It's definitely "the economy, stupid," but there are fine points to the effects of the economy on the election.

Unemployment, Education and Voting


Frankly, I don't know the identity of the person who posted the following blog, but the chart above and the sentiments the blog contains are worth displaying in a discussion of the effect of unemployment on an election. The information in the article is taken from an article in the Washington Post by Ezra Klein, as the author shows in the link below.

The chart above reveals a fundamental problem in our democracy. That is, the less educated you are, the less likely you are to vote. Coincidentally, you are also more likely to be unemployed. I may disagree with the author that the main factor uneducated and unemployed people don't vote is the impact of the mainstream media. I'm sure the media is part of the problem but discouragement, ill-health, the time-consuming effort to scrounge enough sustenance to live, and unfamiliarity with how the political system works surely also constribute to a lack of voting.

The "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” case mentioned below is the recent case decided by the Supreme Court which continued the legal description of corporations as persons, protected their right to free speech, and connected again the right to free speech to the right to spend an unlimited amount of money to make youself heard.

Why the Hell Don’t the Unemployed Vote

Posted on December 8, 2010 by Lex

Source: Ezra Klein article in Washington Post

People complain about the “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” case and how it allows corporations to “buy” candidates. While this is true, perhaps that’s a tiny problem compared to the fact that uneducated people don’t vote. They are therefore under-represented. It makes perfect sense then that politicians would be more concerned about tax cuts for the very rich as opposed to extending unemployment insurance.

Who is to blame here? It’s hard to say and still sound remotely objective. But I think everyone likes to blame the media. Why is the mainstream media feeding bullshit to the people? Partly because the very rich pull the strings to achieve specific goals that benefit them, but mostly because the general public for the most part lacks intellectually curiosity. I don’t like to make such sweeping generalizations, but from my limited experience of the world, it’s an empirically-reasonable one.

Are You Ready?


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Quite frankly, if I were Obama I would even run for a second term. I'd say: "Screw it! I tried!" And then I'd expatriate and move my family to The Bahamas. He could easily adjust. Bahamas? Hawaii? What's the difference?

    • hottopics profile image


      7 years ago from Texas

      Obama reelected = over 10% unemployment

    • sir slave profile image

      sir slave 

      7 years ago from Trinity county CA.

      I wouldn't say either people not voting or the citizens united decision dwarf one another.....they are both huge problems!!

      I wonder though, if the other 50% of the population suddenly woke up and voted, who would they vote for.

      Its a safe guess that they are waiting for a third party that isn't another wing of the business party! if they were going to vote for either of the two parties, I figure they would have done so by now!

    • Harlan Lewin profile imageAUTHOR

      Harlan Lewin 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      You're right. Yours is the usual critique of statistics like the one I posted. With unemployment there's the walking dead, the dead, and the zombies. The latter two aren't counted, along with I.C.'s.

      I'm not looking to analyze employment stats, just to look at trends and how they are beginning to affect the 2012 election. If the Administration can make a believable argument that the employment scene is mending, then Obama's chances for re-election will go up. The vast majority of people don't vote on sophisticated stats, they vote on the feelings they have from themselves and neighbors that things are getting better or not. As you know, campaign publicists (including in the White House) try to put a more or less acceptable spin on stats that can be favorably interpreted and get the media to spread the word.

    • OpinionDuck profile image


      8 years ago

      This is not a graph of unemployemtn this is only those that had jobs that lost jobs, not those haven't found work and they ran out of unemployment benefits.

      Also, if you had a fifty thousand dollar a year job and lost it and then replaced it with a job making significantly less money you also wouldn't be getting unemployement.

      It is not only the loss of jobs, but of the quality of jobs that exist. Lower pay, lower or no benefits, and temporary work.

      It also doesn't show all the independent contractors that have not been able to fully book or get adequate work, thus generating a lower yearly income.

      Independnet Contractors can't file for unemployment.


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