Unemployment in June remained approximately 20 percent higher in states won by President Obama in last fall’s election than in states won by Republican candidate John McCain, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday.
Meanwhile national opinion polls are continuing to show Obama’s approval ratings are dropping.
According to the table below, the unemployment rate in June for states voting for Obama averaged 9.34 percent, compared to 7.91 percent in states that voted for the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Five states voting for McCain in 2008 had unemployment over 10 percent: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Ten states voting for Obama in 2008 had unemployment over 10 percent: California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Rhode Island, plus the District of Columbia.
In June, Michigan led the nation as the first state to have unemployment over 15 percent.
Thirty percent of all states now have unemployment rates higher than 10 percent.
Conceivably, states that were suffering more economically at the end of the Bush administration would have had a greater tendency to vote Democratic in the 2008 presidential election.
Still, the risk for Obama is that states voting for him last fall might be disappointed in the economic results he so far has obtained for their states.
The disappointment factor might be especially acute in states such as Michigan, where the Obama administration was not able to keep Chrysler or GM out of the bankruptcy courts, despite billions of dollars in government bailouts.
Unemployed workers in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where Obama promised during the campaign he would renegotiate NAFTA to win back U.S. jobs, might be disappointed to see the president attend the fifth annual Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America summit meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico, Aug. 9-10.
WND previously reported warnings that if unemployment numbers in the states that voted Democratic in the 2008 presidential election do not begin improving soon, the party may face 2010 mid-term election losses in both governor races and in Congress.
A national telephone survey by Rasmussen Reports last week found 40 percent would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 37 percent would choose the Democratic candidate in a Generic Congressional Ballot.
Rasmussen reported that support for Democratic congressional candidates has now reached the lowest level of support in over two years of its polling, while support for Republican candidates is just one point below its highest level over the same period.
Over the past year, Rasmussen has reported Democratic support has dropped from a high of 50 percent, and Republican support has risen from a low of 34 percent.
“Democrats held a six- or seven-point lead over the GOP for the first several weeks of 2009,” Rasmussen Reports said. “That began to slip in early February, and since mid-April, the parties have been roughly even.”
Esquire magazine, 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.”
Silver’s analysis contradicted the conventional wisdom that performance of the economy “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 – 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 already has reported 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.
Obama’s average job approval rate dropped to 56.2 percent in the period from July 9 to July 17, according to poll composites reported at RealClearPolitics.com.
The Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll also shows considerable erosion in Obama’s support, with 28 percent of the nation’s voters now strongly approving of the way he is performing and 36 percent strongly disapproving. The figures gave Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -8 as of July 18.
The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed Obama’s job approval rating has dropped from 61 percent in April to 56 percent in June, a trend reflecting growing concerns about administration policies.
With Obama himself now predicting unemployment will hit 10 percent nationwide this year, public dissatisfaction with the administration’s nearly $2 trillion projected 2009 deficit is almost certain to intensify.
The deteriorating employment situation prompted Bush administration adviser Karl Rove in a Wall Street Journal editorial to borrow James Carville’s famous proclamation, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
“It is becoming clear that the economy is now the top issue,” Rove wrote. “Mr. Obama’s presidency may well rise or fall on it.
“The economy will be his responsibility long before next year’s elections,” Rove continued. “Americans may give him a chance to turn things around, but voters can turn unforgiving very quickly if promised jobs don’t materialize.”