This could certainly change the dynamics of the 2012 presidential election. From the Wall Street Journal:
The U.S. jobless rate will be 7.7% in November 2012, the highest level for a presidential election month since Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford in 1976, according to the average forecast of economists in the latest Wall Street Journal survey. . . .
On average, the 54 respondents—not all of whom answer every question—forecast the jobless rate will be 8.8% in June and 8.4% in December of 2011. They forecast the U.S. economy will add about 190,000 jobs a month over the next year—an improvement from the depressed level of job creation so far in this recovery, but still too low to bring the unemployment rate down quickly.
While the 7.7% rate in November 2012 would be the highest in seven presidential election cycles, analysts point out that it is often the overall trend—rather than the level of joblessness—that determines an incumbent’s fate. President Carter was defeated in 1980 by Ronald Reagan when the unemployment rate was 7.5%, lower than the level when he was elected but up from 5.6% earlier in his term. Meanwhile, President Reagan was re-elected in 1984 with the rate at 7.2%, but that was down sharply from the peak of 10.8% recorded in 1982