Free Markets, Free People
The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:
In a week confused by seasonal adjustments, initial unemployment claims rose 34,000 in to 386,000, which is much higher than expected. But the 4-week average is actually lower, down 1,500 to a 375,500. Continuing claims rose 1,000 to 3.314 million. The 4-week average is also up 1,000 to 3.312 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index remained unchanged at -37.5 in the latest week.
Existing home sales fell 5.4% in June to a much weaker than expected 4.37 million annual rate, the lowest of the year. The declines are across the board in both single-family homes and condos, and in all geographical regions.
The Philadelphia Fed Survey rose to -12.9, indicating a slower rate of contraction in the district from last month.
The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators fell 0.3% in June. But the coincident index rose 0.2% in June, indicating current growth in the economy.
Much to the Obama campaign and the Time’s chagrin I would suppose. You see, the economics and politics of unemployment are personal, and most of those who find themselves in that position don’t care about Bain Capital or Romney’s tax returns. That’s essentially the message the most recent NYT/CBS News poll reported:
Despite months of negative advertising from Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies seeking to further define Mr. Romney as out of touch with the middle class and representative of wealthy interests, the poll shows little evidence of any substantial nationwide shift in attitudes about Mr. Romney.
Personal situations trump political rhetoric, especially when the political rhetoric has no bearing on that personal situation. Apparently, unlike the media, most of the public still realize what is important. They aren’t caught up in the politics. They want answers to the hard questions … the questions the Obama campaign would just as soon ignore.
Thus the distraction game.
But, apparently, that game isn’t working.
The new poll shows that the race remains essentially tied, notwithstanding all of the Washington chatter suggesting that Mr. Romney’s campaign has seemed off-kilter amid attacks on his tenure at Bain Capital and his unwillingness to release more of his tax returns. Forty-five percent say they would vote for Mr. Romney if the election were held now and 43 percent say they would vote for Mr. Obama.
When undecided voters who lean toward a particular candidate are included, Mr. Romney has 47 percent to Mr. Obama’s 46 percent.
Now that’s pretty much dead even with the challenger, despite all the negative ads and stories, having the slight edge.
Frankly, given history, it shouldn’t be this close at this point. Even Jimmy Carter had a lead at this point in his re-election campaign.
The poll is another among many indicators that the Obama presidency is in trouble. Take it for no more than that. It’s a temperature check. A snapshot.
However, when put together with all the other temperature checks, you begin to see a campaign that isn’t at all healthy.
I can’t say I’m shedding too many tears over that. And it also says that the voters are, at least to this point, able to push aside the distractions, focus on the key issues and hold a president accountable that desperately seeks someone (or something) to blame his failure on or an issue to distract from that failure.