• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Key Obama Aide: Unemployment Won’t Be A Key Issue In 2012

On Wednesday, David Plouffe, who is back serving as one of President Obama’s key re-election advisers, engaged in a little wishful thinking earlier this week:

President Obama’s senior political adviser David Plouffe said Wednesday that people won’t vote in 2012 based on the unemployment rate.

Plouffe should probably hope that’s the case, since dismal job figures aren’t expected to get any better for Obama and the economy on Friday.

(…)

The Obama campaign’s hope is that voters will feel the economy is improving in the fall of 2012, just as they did when Roosevelt and Reagan were reelected.

That seemed to be at the root of Plouffe’s remarks on Wednesday, as quoted by Bloomberg.

“The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers,” Plouffe said, according to Bloomberg. “People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’ ”

The remarks will likely irritate Democrats who think Obama and his political team have taken their eye off jobs.

The rest of us will just laugh. Obviously, it’s Plouffe job to take the focus of the bad news out there, and the unemployment numbers are some of the worst news right now, but his comments really amount to nothing more than blindly hoping that the American people won’t hold the President responsible if the economy is still in a bad situation a year from now. It’s really all he has to go on.

 

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. legion says:

    The more I see of statements like this, the more I worry that even a nutbar like Bachmann could unseat Obama next year. This is dangerously stupid thinking. Even greed-drive, short-term-thinking boobs like Our Corporate Masters will eventually come to realize that you can’t sell things to people who don’t have any money. The only idea the GOP has ( the only idea they _ever_ have) is to give more money to rich people, but even that can’t last forever. If Obama can’t surround himself with smarter people than this, we’re never going to see things get any better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. JKB says:

    Well, they took the “stimulus” and used it to shore up cronies and their core. It will all hinge on how refined they were in who feel they got the stimulus and who feel they got the shaft.

    It probably doesn’t help that they stimulated rich people’s jets but are now giving them the shaft.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  3. Gerry W. says:

    If this is the guy’s thinking, then it is a real mistake. It is always about jobs and the economy no matter how good or bad it is or whatever circumstance our world is in. It is the same mistake by the right or republicans who think a social agenda is more important than jobs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Tano says:

    Maybe it is too subtle a point for most people, but he is correct. The average person does not look up the unemployment statistics, and then decide how to vote.They vote on the basis of how they feel that their own situation is doing.

    Of course, the two measures are correlated – the greater the unemployment rate is, the larger the number of people who find themselves in a perilous situation, or who find their neighbors or customers in a bad situation.

    It is probably true that if the election happens during a period in which the economy is surging, or at least moving forward briskly, then the incumbent may not be penalized by the voters, even if the (lagging) unemployment rate is still relatively high. That is what happened with Reagan in 1984 afterall, the rate was still well above 7% – but the trend was in the right direction, downward, and there was a general sense that things were getting better (morning in America). There seems to be a fair chance that a similar dynamic may be at play late next year, and if so, then the precise percentage of unemployed may not be that important.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  5. Edvard M says:

    One wonders then just what will be key.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. legion says:

    Tano,
    The statement in your first paragraph could apply to any piece of economic information – hell, any piece of _any_ kind of information. But all info isn’t the same. The number of people whose lives are directly affected by, say, the deficit is practically zero. But the number of people who are affected by sky-high unemployment (especially underemployment, which is about double that rate) is increasing daily – not just as the number of people on the rolls grows, but as their inability to do anything other than live hand-to-mouth affects more and more of their extended family (not to mention consumer demand). Those guys don’t _have_ to “look up” the statistics – they are the statistics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. DavidL says:

    In our next exciting episode, David Plouffe loses hope in Hope or Hope goes Plouffe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Tano says:

    Those guys don’t _have_ to “look up” the statistics – they are the statistics.

    Thats pretty much what I said. The two measures – unemployment statistics and the collection of personal situations – are correlated. But I think it is wrong to assume that the specific number, of unemployed or underemployed, is the key to predicting voting patterns. That is the point Plouffe was making. You need rather to look at the general sense that people have as to where the economy is going. Even someone unemployed – if they sense that the economy is surging and that their job prospects are brightening every day – may end up being supportive of an incumbent – maybe even more so than an employed person in a downward trending economy who still has their job but feels that it very much in danger.

    This is laid out pretty plainly in the article itself:

    The Obama campaign’s hope is that voters will feel the economy is improving in the fall of 2012, just as they did when Roosevelt and Reagan were reelected.
    That seemed to be at the root of Plouffe’s remarks on Wednesday, as quoted by Bloomberg.

    Doug finds this laughable, but in fact, Doug seems not to understand the point at all:

    his comments really amount to nothing more than blindly hoping that the American people won’t hold the President responsible if the economy is still in a bad situation a year from now.

    Clearly this is not the case. As the article states, Plouffe is hoping that the American voters will see that the economy is improving – and thus be supportive of Obama even if the unemployment rate is still unacceptably high. He is not in any way saying what Doug accuses him of saying – that he hopes the voters will be supportive even if the economy is still bad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. legion says:

    Tano,
    Technically, you (and Plouffe) are correct – if people thing the economy is improving then a poor economic state won’t impact Obama’s chances. But this has to be taken in context – the context of a jobs report that is not just bad, but shockingly bad, as well as fairly unexpected (considering I saw more than one article just yesterday touting significant increases in payroll stats, etc).

    The problem is not that today’s economic snapshot is bad, it’s that it’s staying bad and actually getting worse. As Krugman points out, another little turd buried in the jobs report is that average wages actually went down slightly in the last period. For the vast majority of Americans – anyone making less than 6 figures – the economy is _not_ getting better, it’s getting worse. And not one single solitary politician on either side of the aisle is doing _anything_ about it – the one problem whose solution would utterly guarantee Obama’s reelection. And advisors like Plouffe, who seems to be spinning that it’s “not so bad” rather than actually address the issue, are a big part of the problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Tano says:

    @legion:

    You recognize that maybe Plouffe is correct – that if people feel that the economy is improving strongly in Nov. 2012, they will vote on that perception moreso than on the specific unemployment number.

    Good – that is his, and my point. But you then point to the context of today’s job report. Well, OK – I understand that today’s report is a real bummer, but it really doesn’t have all that much to do with the question of what conditions will be like 16 months from now.

    There are lots of good reasons to believe that things are not going to stay static for the next 16 months, nor will they get worse. The economy is brimming with stored up capital that is ready to be invested. There is lots of pent-up demand. And if you accept that an important factor holding back the economy is the lack of confidence that the business sector has in the near-future financial situation – well, there is a good chance that a grand agreement on the debt and deficit will break that logjam.

    I don’t think it is fair to characterize Plouffe’s comments as simply “its not so bad” As a campaign person he is obviously trying to spin the situation, but the message seems more like “its going to be getting better and that is the important factor voters look to”, rather than “they’ll vote for us anyway because its not so bad”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. legion says:

    but it really doesn’t have all that much to do with the question of what conditions will be like 16 months from now.

    I think this is the only point we actually disagree on. I see this jobs report as being something of a cliff we’ve just fallen off of. There _is_ a butt-ton of capital out there, and a similar amount of unrealized demand, but I think the concept “you have to spend money to make money” has been completely forgotten by modern capitalists… I think the economy is currently driven by greed-headed rentiers who largely don’t even know _how_ to make money by producing something, rather than just controlling access to other things, and as a result I don’t see the economy recovering any time soon. If anything, I see the near term a little more darkly that even guys like Krugman, who are already predicting a double-dip recession on the way.

    The economy is still not adding significant jobs. The jobs that are being created are at sub-standard wages. The underwater mortgage problem hasn’t hit bottom yet. Of people who _do_ have jobs, increasing numbers of them are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with next to no disposable income. Nothing seems capable of getting corporate America to part with its liquid reserves – it’s not concern/uncertainty about the debt ceiling, just like it was never about uncertainty regarding health care benefits, or any other lie the GOP makes up. I’m not sure what they _are_ waiting for, but I’m certain it’s not “uncertainty”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0