News / USA

Jobless Rate Drives Voter Unrest in US Election Campaign

U.S. voters go to the polls in seven weeks to elect a new Congress, and political experts say the economy will be the top issue in this year's election, especially the high unemployment rate.

The national unemployment rate sits at 9.6 percent, and economists expect little change between now and Election Day in November.

Public concern over the high jobless rate is the number-one issue in the election, says Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown.

"I think people make decisions based on what they see in their lives.  You know they are still worried about their jobs, they are still worried about their brother-in-law's job," Brown said.

The unemployment rate also drives the general public perception of how the economy and the country are doing as a whole.  And Peter Brown says the data he sees suggests Americans are growing more pessimistic about their own economic futures.

"The thing that should worry the White House is that a plurality of Americans now think that the economy is getting worse," he says, "not better, whereas in the spring it was the other way around."

The economic recession in the United States has spread the fear of losing a job far and wide, says F.D. Americas chief Ed Reilly.  He presented some survey results at a recent political forum sponsored by the National Journal.

"Seventy percent of the respondents in our poll said a member of their family or someone close to them had lost their job or been laid off.  The depth and the breadth of this recession is felt by all Americans, and given that it is not surprising that the number one thing they are looking for in terms of rebuilding their confidence or a sense of things moving in the right direction is a decrease in unemployment," Reilly said.

Democrats are clearly worried that the stubbornly high jobless rate will lead to extensive Republicans gains in November.

"The black hole of this election year is the economy," said Larry Sabato, who directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, "the rotten economy, the high unemployment rate.  That is what is hurting Democrats."

President Barack Obama is trying to convince voters that his administration is doing all it can to spur economic growth and create jobs even though only modest private sector job growth has been reported in recent months.

Mr. Obama notes that millions of jobs were lost before he came into office in 2009 and that he empathizes with those looking for work.

"That is a huge hole to dig ourselves out of and people who have lost their jobs around the country and cannot find one, moms who are sending out resumes and not getting calls back, worried about losing homes and not being able to pay bills, they are not feeling good right now," the president said.  "And I understand that."

Republicans expect to benefit from the public discontent over the economy.  House Republican leader John Boehner, who appeared Sunday on CBS News' Face the Nation program, says the White House and congressional Democrats have made the jobless situation worse by spending billions of dollars to stimulate the economy and expand health care coverage.

"We need to control spending in Washington, D.C.," Boehner said, "and we need to remove the uncertainty that clouds are economy from all of these new policies and programs being enacted by this Congress."

There is plenty of history to illustrate why Democrats are worried about the jobless rate as the election draws near.

In 1982, Republicans lost 26 House seats during President Ronald Reagan's first term in office when the unemployment rate soared up to 10.8 percent near Election Day.

In 1958, Republicans lost 47 seats after the jobless rate rose steadily from 4.3 percent to 7.5 percent close to the election.

This year Republicans are looking for a repeat of their 1994 trouncing of Democrats when they had a net gain of 54 House seats and won control of the House for the first time in 40 years.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid