Friday's jobs report, showing an unemployment rate down to 7.8 percent amid a minimally expanding labor force, stunted what had been a destabilizing streak for President Obama's reelection effort.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney had enjoyed a modest but noticeable recovery in the polls even before Wednesday when, by nearly all accounts, he left Obama on the mat in Denver, dazed and staring at the ceiling. And Romney had finally not just walked back but completely disowned his "47 percent" comments.
Weaker-than-expected jobs numbers may have helped Romney’s narrative. Instead, the jobs figures — simply by dint of being an upbeat data point — track with rising consumer confidence and increasing numbers of Americans who believe the country is heading in the right direction. The undeniably effective GOP talking point about 43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent gets shelved. All of this should help Obama level his wobble. And consider how anguished the howls of Democrats would have been and joyful the whoops of Republicans would have been had the report been sour.
"It feels really, really good," Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi said on MSNBC of the economic news.
For anyone looking for certainty about the election, though, examine the frenziedly incompetent performance put forth on cable television this morning by pundits too hastily offering explanations — or complete wonderment — for the unemployment picture. Sometimes you've just got to let the numbers play out by themselves.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Jobs Data May Cool Romney’s Post-Debate Momentum
[National Journal, 10/5/12] Friday’s unexpectedly good jobs numbers — unemployment fell to 7.8 percent, below the psychologically important 8 percent mark, and the economy created 114,000 jobs — may blunt some of Romney’s post-debate momentum, but is unlikely to swing huge numbers of voters toward Obama.
Lehrer Says He Was ‘Effective’
[Politico, 10/5/12] Jim Lehrer said that his role as moderator of the first debate was to get out of the way and allow Romney and Obama to engage one another. “I don’t consider that being passive, I consider it being effective,” he said.
Analysis: Without Voting, Noncitizens Could Hand Obama the Election
[Washington Post, 10/5/12] By constitutional mandate, the Census, and therefore the distribution of electoral votes, takes into account all people living in a state. In no scenario does this quirk benefit Romney, but it could give Obama three to five extra electoral votes.
Romney Drops ‘8 Percent’ Line
[Politico, 10/5/12] Following new jobs numbers, Romney can no longer deliver a favorite stump line about “43 months with unemployment above 8 percent.” On Friday, he acknowledged the lower figure, saying the rate “has come down very, very slowly.”
Opinion: Let’s Ban the Term ‘Small Business’ from Debates
[The Atlantic, 10/5/12] Jordan Weissman argues that the term "small business" is meaningless and points to research showing a business’s size doesn’t actually affect its ability to create jobs. We should, he writes, discard the term from political discourse.
Analysis: Why is Mitt Romney Picking a Fight with Big Bird?
[Time, 10/5/12] Dragging the beloved muppet into the debate may seem like a misstep, but by doing so, Romney’s taking the debate over PBS out of the culture war, and making it purely a fiscal question.
Political Connections: Where’s the Beef?
[National Journal, 10/4/12] The debate spotlighted the biggest hole in Obama’s reelection effort, as NJ’s Ronald Brownstein writes: the paucity of specifics he has offered about his second-term agenda. Team Obama has effectively redirected this campaign into a referendum on Romney, but when the spotlight shifts back to the president, he seems listless.
Moderate Mitt Returns – But Conservatives Cheer
[Politico, 10/5/12] The candidate who won the GOP nomination boasting of his “severely conservative” record, Romney on Wednesday sounded like what conservatives always suspected he really is: a Massachusetts moderate who supports some regulations and doesn’t want to cut taxes for the rich. But cheering conservatives proved that beating Obama is most important to them.
Romney Takes Liberties With Claims About a Bipartisan Past
[New York Times, 10/5/12] The Times’s Michael Wines takes a look back to Romney’s time as governor of Massachusetts, writing that while Romney and the state's overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature did at times come together, much of Romney’s term in office was characterized by conflict and tensions.
Iowa Woman ‘Outraged’ Over Portrayal of Her Question to Ryan
[National Journal, 10/5/12] A woman who pressed GOP veep nominee Paul Ryan for more specifics on his jobs plan this week in Iowa wrote an op-ed in her local paper expressing outrage that the Obama campaign and the media seized on her question to attack the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Obama Poised to Nearly Double 2008 Ad Spending
[National Journal, 10/5/12] Obama’s reelection effort has spent more than $300 million on television advertising, an amount that puts him on track to nearly double his own record-breaking spending from the 2008 cycle. Obama continues to outpace Romney’s campaign spending, particularly in swing states.
Networks, AP Cancel Exit Polls in 19 States
[Washington Post, 10/4/12] Exit polling in 19 states has been canceled by the Associated Press and major television networks, a change from the last five elections. Network executives said they wanted to concentrate on the “most important states” in this election.
Obama’s Popularity With Female Voters Means Romney has Uphill Battle for Iowa
[Des Moines Register, 10/5/12] Obama holds double-digit leads with female likely voters in Iowa on a range of issues, everything but reducing the deficit and fixing the economy.
Dems Hope Biden Can Blunt Romney Momentum Post-Debate
[The Hill, 10/5/12] Democrats hope that a strong performance from Vice President Joe Biden next Thursday during his first debate with GOP veep nominee Paul Ryan could turn the page on the president’s own poor performance. But they also worry that Biden’s tendency to speak his mind could backfire. Biden told reporters that he was looking forward to the debate because he and Ryan have such “fundamentally different” views on many issues.
Biden Acknowledges he, Obama Want to Raise $1 Trillion in Taxes on Top Earners
[Fox News, 10/5/12] Biden’s characteristic bluntness on Thursday gave the GOP fresh fodder to criticize the Democratic ticket’s pledge to let the Bush-era tax rates for households making $250,000 and up expire: He said the ticket does want to “raise taxes by a trillion dollars … in one regard.”
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