This is the line drawn in the sand. If the American economy averages about 175,000 news jobs a month then Obama should win the election. If it’s below 100,000 jobs a month then Romney is moving in. Anything else in between then we have a fight.

That is at least according to some analysis by the NY Times:

“Historically, nothing — not social issues, campaign advertisements or gaffes — has influenced voters more heavily than the direction of the economy in an election year. In only three races since World War II has the outcome been different from what the economy’s direction would have suggested: 1952 (when the popular Dwight D. Eisenhower was running), 1968 (when the Vietnam War hobbled the Democrats) and 1976 (when Watergate hobbled the Republicans).”

In the absence any kind of scandal against a party, this looks like a race that comes down to jobs. And last month the economy added only 115,000 jobs. But the 6 months prior averaged almost 200,000.

This should be interesting then.

But it’s also sad. I’ve talked before about how candidates play games with economics. When it suits them, they will take credit for something in the economy. When it doesn’t, they won’t or their opponent will use it as an attack point. The reality is the role of the president in the economy is marginal at best. Even if a president put in different policies, there is no guarantee they would have been more effective.

No one really knows what the magic button is for jobs. But any candidate with a good smile (and both do) can convince you their policies did or would work.

The fact that the economy plays such a role in our elections is disappointing. Who was president really doesn’t matter. But in an election where the media is more focused on alleged high school bullying than a campaigner’s actual stance on issues tell us all we need to know about how rational voters will be come November anyway.

categories: economics, government