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News from the Votemaster

Poor Jobs Report Announced

Another poor jobs report was released yesterday by the Labor Department. In June, only 80,000 new jobs were added to the economy and the unemployment rate stayed steady at 8.2%. Clearly this is bad news for the Democrats and good news for the Republicans. It is an unfortunate characteristic of modern American politics that the party out of power roots (but very quietly) for bad economic news and lots of unemployment. That was certainly true during the Bush administration and is true now. If nothing else, this report will make Mitt Romney focus ever more than ever on the economy.

Slow as the jobs growth is, if you pull back and look at the larger picture, you get a different view. The graph below shows the monthly change in employment since Dec. 2008. This graph gives an entirely different impression. In the final year of the Bush administration the economy was bleeding jobs at a horrendous rate. After Obama took charge and quickly passed the stimulus bill, the economy began improving, first by slowing the job losses, and a year later, by having the economy add jobs. The U.S. economy is like a battleship: it can't turn on a dime. Nevertheless, for people who still can't find work, graphs like this one are not much consolation.

jobs since 2008

Is it President Obama's fault that jobs are growing so slowly? Probably. Most economists felt that the stimulus bill was too small to have the effect required and urged Obama to make the total spending and tax cuts in it closer to $2 trillion. Obama did not want to go above $800 billion (it is now estimated to be $830 billion) to prevent the Republicans from attacking him for a "trillion-dollar boondoggle." Now he sees the folly of that position, but it is too late. While nobody expects politicians to take actions that are unpleasant now but will yield really good results in 50 years, at least thinking ahead to your next election would be useful some times.

Romney Begins Preparing for the Fall Debates

In reality, much to the dismay of us political junkies, the period between Independence Day and Labor Day is fairly dead. People are more interested in hot dogs than in policy positions. Expect lots of stories like this one on cookiegate. Baring something fairly unusual, political news is not likely to have much impact until Aug. 27, when the Republican convention opens in Tampa, FL. Even then, because conventions have lost all their drama, they have little influence on the voters these days. The only surprise left is who Romney will choose as his running mate. But if it is Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), even that will not be much of a surprise, since it is so widely predicted.

The event that could really shake up the campaign is the first debate between Obama and Romney. There could be fireworks as Obama tries to label Romney an out-of-touch multimillionaire who only cares about lowering taxes for the rich and Romney tries to label Obama as a doomed President who has had four years to turn the economy around and failed miserably. Unlike Sarah Palin, who thought debate preparation was for wimps, both Obama and Romney are already preparing furiously. Obama is using Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) as "Romney," since Kerry is also from Massachusetts and knows Romney's positions and mannerisms well. Romney has now started preparing as well. For Romney, initial preparation is undoubtedly studying Obama's policy positions and finding ways to attack them as well as thinking of answers to anticipated questions like: "Please explain how Romneycare differs from Obamacare?" Romney is not using a standin for Obama yet in part because there is a scarcity of black Republicans who can imitate Obama well (as Kerry can imitate Romney) and in part because Romney feels more comfortable at his desk in front of a computer screen full of facts and data than play acting. But sooner or later, he is going to have to do it since he knows that Obama is a very experienced debater and public speaker.

Christie Self Eliminates from Consideration as Veep

New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) finished off the job of eliminating himself as a possible vice presidential candidate yesterday by having a nasty exchange with a man who criticized his education policies. The last thing Romney wants in a running mate is a guy with an uncontrollable temper that gets him in the news all the time for exploding at people. Unlike John McCain, a former military jet pilot who was impulsive and took risks all the time, Romney wants total control of every situation he deals with and having a loose cannon like Christie on board the ship of state is just not going to happen.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
California 55% 37%   Jun 21 Jul 02 Field Poll