By Mark Rhoads -
A common self-deceiving talking point of national Democrats has been that President Obama can win re-election if he can change the conversation and make the November vote about competing visions of the future rather than a referendum on the incumbent's first four years. For starters, national Democratic campaign planners already tried this same strategy only 15 months ago and it failed completely. In Novemrber 2010, the GOP won the biggest net gains in several generations including 63 U.S. House seats, 6 U.S. Senate seats, 9 governors, and 680 state legislative seats around the country.
Almost any election with an incumbent president on the ballot is mostly a referendum on that president and the party of the president. Moreover, while President Obama can rightly argue that he inherited a terrible economic mess in January 2009, he will not be able to argue convincingly to many voters that he did anything that improved the climate since by the day of the fall election on Tuesday, Nov. 12, the national unemployment rate will still be well above 8 percent and the nation will still owe four trillion more dollars than it did when President Obama took office for a total of more than $16 TRILLION.
Even the electoral votes of Illinois can be competititve notwithstanding the reliable Chicago machine that Obama needed so much in 2008. Not only will Team Obama need to defend its own record and that of Democrats in Congress but it will have the additional baggage of failures by the Quinn Administration in Springfield and the Democratic majorities in the General Assembly to stop jobs from leaving the state.
According to the BLS current population survey (CPS), the unemployment rate for Illinois fell 0.2 percentage points in December 2011 to 9.8%. The state unemployment rate was 1.3 percentage points higher than the national rate for the month. The unemployment rate in Illinois peaked in January 2010 at 11.2% and is now 1.4 percentage points lower. From a post peak low of 8.7% in April 2011, the unemployment rate has now grown by 1.1 percentage points. You can also see Illinois unemployment compared to other states.