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President Obama delivers major address on security at National Archives Thursday (White House photo)

Unemployment in April remained 20 percent higher in states won by Democratic candidate Barack Obama in last fall’s presidential election than in states won by Republican candidate John McCain, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics released yesterday.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate went from 8.5 percent in March to 8.9 percent in April.

WND previously reported that if unemployment numbers in the states won by Obama do not begin improving soon, the Democratic Party may face the prospect of 2010 mid-term election losses in both governor races and in Congress.

A national telephone survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports has found significant Democratic Party losses and Republican Party gains over the past year in a generic congressional ballot.

Currently, the GOP and Democratic Party are vying at 40 percent to 39 percent for leadership in the Rasmussen-conducted generic congressional ballot.

Over the past year, Rasmussen has reported that Democratic support has dropped from a high of 50 percent and Republican support has risen from a low of 34 percent.

“Democrats began the year holding a six- or seven-point lead over the GOP for the first several weeks of 2009,” Rasmussen said. “That began to slip in early February, and the Republicans actually took a two-point lead for a single week in the middle of March. Since then, the results have ranged from dead even to a four-point lead for the Democrats until the GOP regained the lead.”

Esquire, reporting the predictions of Nate Silver, a baseball statistician and political predictor at FiveThirtyEight.com, asked the following question: “Do Democrats need an economic miracle to avert a serious setback in congressional elections next year? The stats guru’s new model shows that Obama will need about a 65-percent approval rating to hold the mid-terms.”

Key to Silver’s analysis was contradicting the traditional wisdom that the “performance of the economy, it has long been believed, is the key determinant of voting behavior in the midterm elections.”

Instead, Silver argued that a president’s approval rating matters more than the economy or the popularity of the Congress itself in determining mid-term election results.

Looking back to President Truman’s mid-term elections in 1946, Silver noted that of the eight mid-term elections in which the president exceeded 55 percent approval, his party lost 20 seats or more only once. That happened in the 1958 mid-term elections under President Eisenhower, when the economy was in a deep recession that did not fully recover until the tax cuts under President Kennedy.

Silver concluded Obama will need to sustain a 65-percent approval rating to avoid losing ground in the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections.

WND reported President Obama’s 63 percent approval rating at the end of his first 100 days was about the same as registered by President Carter in 1976 at the same benchmark moment in his presidency.

Obama’s average job approval rate has dropped to 60.7 percent in the period from May 6 to May 20, according to poll composites reported at RealClearPolitics.com.

As the table shows, no state that voted for Republican Party presidential candidate John McCain had more than 12 percent unemployment, while the two states with highest unemployment – Michigan with 12.9 percent and Oregon with 12 percent were both states that voted for Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

Drawing causal conclusions from these data are very difficult.

Conceivably, states that were suffering more economically at the end of the Bush administration had a greater tendency to vote Democratic in the 2008 presidential election.

Still, the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll shows considerable erosion in Obama’s support, with a 28-percent differential between those strongly approving and those strongly disapproving on Inauguration Day diminishing to a single-digit, 6-percent differential as measured four months later, yesterday.

The risk for Obama is that states that voted for him might be disappointed in the economic results so far. The disappointment factor might be especially acute in states such as Michigan where the Obama administration has not been able to keep Chrysler out of bankruptcy courts, despite billions of dollars in government bailouts.

Yesterday, Fox News reported the Obama administration was preparing to move General Motors into bankruptcy proceedings next week.

Ohio and Pennsylvania might also be disappointed, as Obama has backtracked from his campaign promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement so as to recover more jobs for American workers that have been lost under the treaty’s outsourcing to Mexico.

With California’s budget on the verge of economic collapse after voters rejected this week referendum proposals for emergency spending and unemployment averaging 11 percent in both March and April, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has threatened to fire 5,000 state workers to reduce expenses in the face of a $21 billion state budget shortfall.


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