Monday, May 28, 2012

President Obama's Economic Bright Spot: Republican Controlled States

    Last month, I wrote about the clear and demonstrably superior performance of Republican-controlled* states in reducing unemployment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the April state numbers on Friday, May 18, and if anything, the difference is even more stark.  Just as the national rate dropped from 8.2% to 8.1% from March to April, many individual states (both Republican and Democrat) showed some degree of improvement.  I have updated my raw data spreadsheet, and the bullet points from my April posting are updated here:
  • 9 of the 10 states with the lowest current unemployment rates are under Republican control, including six under complete Republican control, one of which is North Dakota with the lowest rate of 3%
  • 6 of the 10 states with highest current unemployment rates are under Democratic control, and the four worst are all under Democratic control, one of which is Nevada with the highest rate of 11.7%
  • 9 of the 10 states with the greatest improvement from 2009 to 2012 are under Republican control (and 8 of those are under complete Republican control)
  • 7 of the 10 states with the worst performance from 2009 to 2012 are under Democratic control
  • 9 of 16 states with current unemployment rates greater than the national average are under Democratic control
  • The state with the greatest improvement from 2009 to 2012 (38%) is Michigan, under Republican control
  • The two states with the worst performances from 2009 to 2012, Louisiana and Idaho (the rates actually went up,) are under Republican control, but their current rates are still less than the national rate of 8.1%
  • States under Democratic control saw an average decrease of 9% in the rate of unemployment
  • States under Republican control saw an average decrease of 16.8% in the rate of unemployment, close to double the improvement of states under Democratic control
As I said last month, if the decrease in the national unemployment rate had matched that of Republican controlled states, it would already be around 7.8%.  Conversely, if it had followed the Democratic controlled states, it would still be at 8.5%.  There are some anomalies: Vermont is under complete Democratic control and yet has performed very well; and four states under complete Republican control are included in the states with the highest 2012 rates.  There are obviously other factors at work in the states economic and employment situations, but the big picture is clear.  States under Republican control scored nearly double the improvement of states under Democratic control - the correlation is unmistakable.  And the Republicans could easily make the argument that if they had control at the national level as well as the state level, that progress could be accelerated.
    Since the economy seems destined to be the main focus of voters as November approaches, Mitt Romney and Republicans need to do more than just (rightly) point to the failings of the Obama administration and the Democrats on jobs, despite three and a half years of "focusing like a laser" on the economy.  The facts presented here tell the positive message in the unemployment situation:  Republicans are already doing what they can in the face of a national employment malaise, to borrow Jimmy Carter's 1970s terminology.
    Speaking of President Carter... As I noted back in March, during his 2008 campaign, President Obama asked voters to ponder the Reagan-inspired question, "Will our country be better off four years from now?"  The president may well come to regret asking the question.  Republicans need to confront voters with the question and the answer: "Is our country better off after four years under Democratic President Obama?  Not so much.  But look what Republicans have done in the states.  Put us in charge and we can do the same for the whole country.  Not with mandates and taxes and regulations, but by getting government out of the way of the nation's economic engine, the American people."  Not only does this claim have the benefit of being true and easily illustrated with the facts, the positive message will provide a sharp contrast to the campaign of fear and divisiveness the Democrats and the president are waging in an attempt to eke out a second term.

*"Control" is based on holding at least 2 of the 3 of the following: governor, upper legislative house, and lower house.  “Complete control” means holding all three.   

1 comment: