LOOKING AHEAD: Election Eve Issues: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
By Robert J. Guttman
As voters get ready to go to the polls on November 6th, the main issue on our minds are jobs, jobs, jobs.
The new Labor Department report shows that unemployment has ticked up from 7.8% to 7.9% so the economy while adding more new jobs this month is still not in a positive position.
Unemployment, the deficit , the debt and the staggering costs of health care and the future solvency of Medicare and Social Security make this an election based on economic topics.
With a poor economy, a sad aftermath of the hurricane and confusion over the American deaths in Libya it is either a tribute to Obama as a candidate that he is still tied for the lead in national polls or a reflection on Romney that he is not taking advantage of this negative news to be in the lead.
As voters get ready to head to the polls they are well aware of unemployment and poor job prospects for themselves, their family and friends. Voters are aware of the massive debt we have brought upon ourselves.
And, now as we go to the polls we have images of the aftermath of Sandy and long gas lines in New York and New Jersey. We have the possibility of food shortages in our financial capital and surrounding states. Anger is growing and the loss of electricity is not helpful in containing emotions as the weather grows colder this weekend in the Northeast.
Why would the mayor of New York City take the time to endorse the president during a catastrophic emergency? Why is the mayor allowing the marathon to take place while residents in Staten Island are without basic supplies?
Why is the president back on the campaign trail? He should be on the Jersey shore or on Staten Island or the Battery area of New York helping hand out food and directing the relief and clean up effort? It seems strange to see the president out west campaigning as if we were not in a national emergency.
The best part of the presidential campaign has been the several days both candidates took off to respect the victims of the hurricane. There actually were some positive talk from both campaigns. It is very sad that it takes a catastrophic storm to bring out the best in our presidential candidates.
The election now turns to the ground game and the get out the vote effort on election day of both parties and their supporters. Will voting machines be able to work in states affected by power losses?
Will power outages have an affect on the voting in a key state like Pennsylvania that until now has not been considered a swing state?
The worst thing for the president is for the media to start comparing Sandy to Katrina. This has already begun on the evening news and cable shows last night. The images of long lines for gas, food shortages and angry people demanding assistance from the federal government are beginning to evoke thoughts of Katrina.
Obama will be doing everything he can differently from the Bush Administration response to Katrina but the damage may already be done. It seems callous for the president not to be on top of the storm relief. Several hours with Governor Christie is not impressing voters that his administration is on top of the relief effort for victims of Sandy.
And, when it gets down to how people vote this election it will be a referendum on the first four years of Obama’s presidency. Do voters feel Obama is competent? Do voters feel he deserves a second term with the economy in poor shape? Do voters like Obama’s personality better than Romney’s?
With all the negative economic news, storm related bad news and the lingering questions of competency of the administration on its handling-or lack of handling-of the situation in Libya that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, it is somewhat unusual that the president could win re-election and be this close in national polls and ahead slightly in some key swing states.
If Obama pulls off a victory with these poor economic conditions it is either a testament to his positive standing with the American voter based on his personality or a sign that voters do not see Romney as an acceptable alternative.
However, after his first debate performance Romney now looks like he could be president. He appears confident and certainly seems to have the business credentials to be a successful president. While the president speaks of the need for a new Secretary of Business, Romney says he will be his own Secretary of Business if elected president.
I used to work at the US Department of Commerce and most Americans assume that this is the federal government agency that works with and deals with business issues. This idea of a business secretary is a silly campaign gesture that will soon be forgotten.
This has been an exciting presidential campaign but it certainly has not been positive to the American voter. Obama comes up with a blueprint for his second term with only a few days left in the campaign and Romney is saying very little also in the way of specifics on how he will actually help the economy.
Negative advertising has dominated our airwaves. The ads have been incredibly costly and added nothing to our understanding of either candidate.
Who will win? With the economy being so bad it would seem as if Romney would win but the polls show a tight race. My view is that at this late date in the race both candidates are poised for victory.
If Obama wins he will be first president to win with these high unemployment numbers and analysts will say what a brilliant campaign he ran going negative on his opponent early on.
If Romney wins analysts will state that his focus on the economy was a winning formula.
With images of struggling New York and New Jersey residents lining up for food and gas over the weekend and an uptick in the unemployment rate it would seem as if the momentum would continue for Romney. But conditions can change minute by minute in the final days of the campaign and, as they say, the only poll that counts is when voters go to the polls on election day!