Election 2012

Why Today's Jobs Report Will Make It Tougher For Mitt Romney to Win in November

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Yesterday, Reason's Tim Cavanaugh made a strong case that President Obama is on the path to win a second term later this. Cavanaugh looked at public polling showing the shallowness of the GOP's support for Mitt Romney, the most probable nominee.

But these are not the only numbers Obama has on his side. Important economic indicators are now stacking up in the president's favor as well. Earlier this morning, the Labor Department reported job gains of 227,000 in February, the third straight month in which the department reported the creation of more than 200,000 plus jobs. The department also revised its statistics for the previous two months upwards by 61,000 jobs. 

As Styles-section devotees know, three of anything makes a journalistic trend. The recent jobs numbers are not quite spectacular, but they are certainly solid. And as this chart from The New York Times Economix blog shows, they make for favorable visual comparisons to economic recoveries past:

Meanwhile, as Merrill Goozner points out at The Fiscal Times, recent stock market trends also weigh in favor of President Obama's reelection:

Robert Prechter, founder of Elliot Wave International, last month published a study that correlated stock market performance with U.S. presidential election outcomes.

He found stock market performance over the past year and past three years was a far more powerful predictor of re-election outcomes than Main Street-oriented economic variables as unemployment, inflation and economic growth. Why? The stock market is a fairly accurate predictor of the nation's mood, and when people are feeling good (that is, stocks are up), they vote for the incumbent.

Based on the stock market's performance so far this year and in the three years since its bottom (It has nearly doubled), President Obama wins in a landslide.

None of this is to say that the economy is doing amazingly well; unemployment, after all, remains above 8 percent (this figure is complicated by exits and entries from the job market). But what matters most from an electoral perspective is that the outlook appears to be getting better: Voters respond to the direction the economy is heading prior to the election. 

It also makes Romney's already vague campaign messagea tougher sell. He's running as a Washington outsider who can put his business experience to use as an economic fixer—a turnaround artist on a macro scale. But it will be harder to convince voters to hire someone like that if they feel that the economy is already turning around.