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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More