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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Just How Much Could the Economy Improve By November?



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With a lot of House races looking better and better for Republicans, one reader rightfully wonders aloud about the GOP’s momentum peaking too soon.

The economy has to get better sometime, and there’s a chance things will look better in November, right?

A perfectly fair question, but I’m wondering about how much better the public mood could be, at least on the economy. Let’s say the economy goes on a job-creation tear and we reduce unemployment by two whole percentage points by November. That’s still 7.7 percent, still significantly higher than the worst of the Bush years. In other words, even with dramatic improvements, its still going to feel like “hard times” and that doesn’t get into other economic factors — i.e., gas prices, cost of living, housing prices, foreclosures, etc.

Also note that the unemployment rate is hiding, at last count, 1.1 million in the officially “discouraged” category; as these folks get encouraged, and start looking for work, they go into the official rate again…

Remember, the economy has to create 125,000 jobs a month to stay even, and we haven’t come close to that in a long while. This White House’s economic advisers are projecting the creation of 95,000 jobs per month, and said that unemployment would average 10 percent this year. (Hopefully, after getting burned by being too optimistic, these numbers might be a little too pessimistic.)

While anything is possible, I suspect a GOP message that “the Democrats’ policies have failed to effectively respond to the recession” is likely to be extremely resonant in most parts of the country this fall…

UPDATE: A reader adds, “One thing to remember is that the economy (at least employment) would really have to get better by September, not November.  The midterm election will be on November 2, which means that the last pre-election jobs report will be released in early October and will cover the month of September.”


Tags: Barack Obama , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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