News / USA

High Unemployment Could Hurt Democrats in Midterm Vote

Unemployed people use computers to search for jobs and telephones to seek out unemployment insurance benefits at the Nevada JobConnect Career Center, 1 Sept. 2010, Las Vegas.
Unemployed people use computers to search for jobs and telephones to seek out unemployment insurance benefits at the Nevada JobConnect Career Center, 1 Sept. 2010, Las Vegas.

The final -- and gloomy - jobs report released by the U.S. Labor Department released ahead of November's midterm elections showed the unemployment rate remained at a stubborn 9.6 percent.  This report is seen as a key indicator of the health of the U.S. economy, which political analysts say that is not good news for President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress as November 2, Election Day, approaches.

The economy and high unemployment rate are the top issues in this year's election campaign, and President Obama has said his administration remains focused on job creation as a high priority.

"Putting the American people back to work, expanding opportunity, rebuilding the economic security of the middle class is the moral and national challenge of our time," said the president.  

Republicans were quick to react to the September job figures as well.  House Republican leader John Boehner issued a statement that called the report disappointing and left millions of Americans asking, where are the jobs?

Public opinion polls give Republicans an advantage heading into the midterm elections and political analysts are predicting Republican gains in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  It's the state of the economy that is driving voters away from the Democrats and toward the Republicans, says political expert Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution.

"The unemployment, the underemployment, the sort of stagnant income, the declining income for some families.  All of that has created a great sense that nothing is working in this country.  People are very bleak about the state of the economy," Mann says.

Public approval ratings for President Obama and for Democrats in general have been slipping for months now, and, somewhat surprisingly, approval ratings for Republicans in Congress tend to be even worse.  But voters appear poised to hold the Democrats responsible for the sluggish economy on November 2, says Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown.

"And until the unemployment rate gets markedly better, it is unlikely that voters will be any more optimistic about the economy, and therefore that will probably not be good for President Obama," Brown says.

The state of the economy always has a significant impact on national elections, and this year Republicans appear to be benefiting from voter concerns that the U.S. economy is still trying to recover from a recession. The weak economic outlook has shaped a public mindset that took hold months ago, says Republican pollster and political strategist Ed Goeas.

"We know as political pollsters that it basically takes six solid months of good economic news for the economic mentality of the American populace to turn from a recession mentality to a growth mentality," Goeas says. "This election cycle will be run as a recession-attitude, recession-mentality [election] in terms of the voters who are out there."

Republicans charge that the Obama administration's economic stimulus plan, the bank bailout and the health care reform law have all held back economic recovery.  Democrats fire back that a Republican takeover of Congress in November would bring a return to the economic policies of former President George W. Bush, who they say was responsible for the economic downturn to begin with.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs