Political strategists have gazed into their crystal balls for decades trying to divine who will win a given election. But the reality of the metrics they use is more math than voodoo. For example, if traditional logic holds, Barack Obama will lose to challenger Mitt Romney in November because no sitting president has won reelection with an unemployment rate above 8 percent. With less than 100 days until Election Day, the national unemployment rate is 8.3 percent. The American economy seems to be recovering slowly but recent economic indicators have been mixed and barring unforeseen catastrophes a drastic change in the un-and-underemployment rates is not expected before November. As Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign strategist James Carville famously quipped, it’s “the economy, stupid.”
Are the traditional election bellwethers effective in a post-‘great recession’ reality? How can either candidate connect to voters in this year’s divisive election climate?
Jonathan Alter, Bloomberg View columnist and analyst for MSNBC; author of the article “Ghosts of Elections Past Won’t Help Predict This One” and the book “The Promise: President Obama, Year One.”