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October 07, 2012 11:53 AM The Jobs Report: Will It Matter on Election Day?

By John Sides

The jobs report is out and the numbers are, by the standards of the past few years, pretty good.  Could this help Obama on Election Day?

The shortest answer is: probably not much.  In my earlier post on late changes in the economy, I noted this line from Robert Erikson’s and Christopher Wlezien’s analysis of nearly 60 years of economic and elections data:

…one can predict that actual vote from the current income growth about as well in April as in November.  By April, the economic cake is largely baked.

Which is to say, late changes in the economy aren’t that consequential.

If this jobs report matters in any way, it is by shifting the news coverage of the campaign from “Obama bombed in the debate” to “Hey, unemployment fell!”  This report is enough of a departure from previous reports to generate some positive news coverage.  And this will help to displace the positive news coverage Romney was receiving as a consequence of his debate performance.  Given that it’s this news coverage that would boost Romney in the polls, news coverage of the job report could—conceivably, possibly, maybe—limit the boost.

All of that is somewhat speculative, of course.  We need a few more days to see how all of this will play out.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.
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