T-minus 92 days and counting

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its July jobs report [Friday] morning — an assessment that didn’t exactly show considerable growth in the economy over the past month. And from a political perspective, that means one thing: President Obama is running out of time.

Why?

Because polling — both in this campaign and in past races — suggests that public perception on major issues (economy, Iraq, etc.) cements several months in advance of the actual vote, barring some sort of cataclysmic event.

The consistency of Obama’s numbers on the economy is remarkable. Not since 2009 has a majority of Americans approved of how Obama is handling the economy in Washington Post-ABC News polling Couple that fact with the sustained pessimism about the direction of the country and faltering economic confidence ratings, and you get a very dangerous political brew for Obama — particularly this close to an election (95 days!).

What all of the data cited above mean is that, while there will be three more monthly jobs reports prior to voters voting, it may not ultimately matter what they say, unless of course they show massive gains (or losses). …

The August jobs report is due out Sept. 7, one day after the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention. A bad report could go a long way toward snuffing out any bump the president was hoping to enjoy post-convention. The September jobs report will come out on Oct. 5, two days after the first presidential debate and six days before the only vice presidential debate. The October report will be released Nov. 2, just four days before the election.

Viewed that way, the jobs reports could be a double whammy for Obama. Not only is he unlikely to get any political benefit from them unless the reports begin to show signs of real progress next mo nth, but they could also serve as major momentum-crushers for other major moments in the campaign to come.

In short: Things need to change quickly for Obama when it comes to the jobs numbers. If they don’t, he will almost certainly face an electorate this fall — no matter what happens in October — that believes the economy is still sputtering and his plans to fix it haven’t worked.

Well, the economy is still sputtering and his plans to fix it haven’t worked. And his plans beyond Nov. 6 — that is, Taxmageddon — will make the economy even worse.

James Pethokoukis reports that Obama had better be making his post-Inauguration Day alternative employment plans because …

Political scientist Douglas Hibbs looks at two factors when forecasting presidential elections: a) per capita real disposable personal income over the incumbent president’s term, and b) cumulative U.S. military fatalities in overseas conflicts.

And he’s predicting a near-landslide win for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama, with Obama losing by about as big a margin in 2012 as he won back in 2008. Under Hibbs Bread and Peace model, Romney wins 52.5% to Obama’s 47.5%. …

And How is Hibb’s track record?

The only postwar presidential election results not well explained by the Bread and Peace model are 1996 and 2000. In 1996 the vote received by the incumbent Democrat Clinton was 4% higher than expected from political‐economic fundamentals, whereas in 2000 the vote for the incumbent Democratic Party candidate Gore was 4.5% less than expected from fundamentals. I am tempted to argue that idiosyncratic influence of candidate personalities took especially strong form in those elections, with the ever charming Bill Clinton looking especially attractive when pitted against the darkly foreboding Bob Dole in 1996, and the unfailingly wooden Al Gore paling by comparison to an affable George W. Bush in 2000. Alas, this line of reasoning is entirely ad hoc and without scientific merit.

Reading Hibb’s entire paper, I get the sense he is not thrilled with what his model is telling him. He even mentions that he’s a big fan of betting markets, and they show an Obama win. But the model says what it says — even he kind of gently suggests Romney is another stiff, just like Dole and Gore.

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