Political Animal


November 02, 2012 8:50 AM October Jobs Report: Final Bit of Good News For Obama

By Ed Kilgore

So the October Jobs Report from BLS beat expectations quite a bit, with 171,000 net new jobs (consensus expectation had been 121k), and revisions to the last two monthly reports adding another 84,000 jobs. This year’s average monthly gain up until now has been 146,000; this report lifts it to 154,000. Some may recall that Nate Silver called 150,000 new jobs a month Obama’s “magic number” for putting himself in a good situation for re-election.

The unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 7.8% to 7.9% because more people were entering or re-entering the work force. Republicans will leap on this change, of course, which also means Obama will face re-election with the highest unemployment rate of any incumbent president since FDR (it was 7.8% in 1976 when Gerald Ford narrowly lost to Jimmy Carter). But GOPers are probably cursing their luck that the rate did not go back up to 8%, which would have been easy to scream about despite the quite positive nature of this report.

All in all, Obama seems to be getting the late breaks in this campaign.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ron Byers on November 02, 2012 8:56 AM:

    Funny on MSN.com they are screaming the unemployment rate rose to 7.9%. I guess everything is in the eyes of the beholder.

  • c u n d gulag on November 02, 2012 9:02 AM:

    GOP POV:
    When Mitt's President, we'll be adding 171,000 jobs a day! AN HOUR!!!

    The "Job Creators" will see that they are now free from that Kenyan's yoke, and will hire everyone in sight, just out of sheer gratitude!

    Of course, those jobs will only pay 19 cents an hour...


  • Peter C on November 02, 2012 9:13 AM:

    About those upward revisions - will the Republican scream that Obama withheld them in order to get a last-minute bump?

    If they say such inanity (Hannity inanity?), we should just chant "Last minute Bump! Last minute Bump!".

  • T2 on November 02, 2012 9:14 AM:

    Jack Walsh and Darryl Issa will say the following: "Ha ! we caught them cheating last time and now they've started doing what we want" on the unemp %. Steve Benen's job chart should be plastered on every newprint front page and every TV news show. But then, that would spoil the "Obama Fail" meme, wouldn't it.

  • Karen on November 02, 2012 9:21 AM:

    I read that the President's early voting numbers were bad. Is that true?

  • sjw on November 02, 2012 9:28 AM:

    Mitch McConnell is probably kicking himself for not doing even more to tank the economy.

  • boatboy_srq on November 02, 2012 9:31 AM:

    @Karen: that depends. Did you read that on foxnews.com? Then probably not.

  • Karen on November 02, 2012 9:36 AM:

    It was a comment at TPM.

  • Ron Byers on November 02, 2012 9:37 AM:

    Karen, the Gallup national numbers would imply that, but if you look at the internals and at the state polling it is pretty clear that Obama is doing very well in the swing states. A lot of southerners have voted early.

    This is part of what I call the Fox News effect. I most red and all deep red states the Democratic party isn't even bothering to put up a fight. The national media doesn't spend any time in those states and there are few strong home grown newspapers. That means Fox News and talk radio are able to pump unchallenged Republican propaganda 24/7/367 which inflates the power of the Republican propaganda machine. A lot of seniors living in those states have voted early. They are voting for Romney because they haven't heard the truth. The Fox News effect also explains why Obama and Romney are almost 50/50 in the national polls but Obama is poised to win a substantial electorial college victory. Where Obama is getting his message out, he is doing well. Where Fox News is running unopposed, Obama is getting his clock cleaned.

  • mudwall jackson on November 02, 2012 10:07 AM:

    the tpm report i saw had a gop operative complaining that obama supporters were eating the republicans' lunch in terms of early voting in my county here in florida. i was at an obama rally a week ago. there was absolutely no sign of an enthusiasm gap. people were fired up to get out and vote and nothing's happened since then that would have changed that. in fact, just the opposite.

  • Karen on November 02, 2012 10:16 AM:

    @Ron Byers, I live in Austin and can confirm the complete lack of Dem effort here. It is a particular pain to me, and at this moment in my life I can't do much about it. Still 'twould be nice to get a little blue love down here.

  • JM917 on November 02, 2012 11:24 AM:

    @ Karen, Ron Byers:

    If we could get rid of the Electoral College and elect presidents in national popular-vote runoff elections, then both parties (in fact, more than two parties) would be making huge efforts to spread their respective words everywhere. You'd see Democrats trying to mobilize black and white-liberal voters in the Deep South, Republicans trying to bring rightwingers out of the woodwork in California and New England, and third- fourth- and fifth-party candidates trying to scare up voters everywhere, while jockeying for a piece of the action and in hopes of making the final cut. Just look at what happens in France.

    Until that happens, or until more demographic change can occur (as has been happening here in Virginia), Austin liberals have to expect to be pretty lonely. Sad, but that's the reality of our (outmoded) political setup.

  • chasmrich on November 02, 2012 12:22 PM:

    Ron Byers, Folks who are disposed to watch and believe Fox News are probably going to be relatively immune to factual information from other sources. I think that a more significant factor than "Fox News running unopposed" is the proportion of Christian fundamentalists in the population. Such voters are predisposed to ignore science and reason, they are more susceptible to rumors and conspiracy theories than the general population, and they receive information only from sources that agree with their worldview. Anything that conflicts with their worldview is rejected as the work of Satan. In areas where there are high proportions of Christian fundamentalists in the voter population, neither Obama nor anyone else near the center of the political spectrum will have good numbers.

  • beejeez on November 02, 2012 12:45 PM:

    @ JM917:
    Let Obama win on Tuesday with the Electoral College vote while losing the popular vote, and watch how long it takes the GOP to start beating the drum to abolish the EC.