The July jobs report came out today and it was higher than expected: +163k. Interestingly, these were primarily private-sector jobs because government jobs, thanks to state GOP-controlled legislatures, have been summarily eliminated. No doubt the Romney team will spin the 0.1% uptick in unemployment, obscuring the fact that the American automobile industry is doing very well.
Yet, is the election really about the economy and jobs? Or is that just a cover-up for more emotional and more deeply felt issues by the voting public? I was stunned yesterday by a polling statistic that found 40% of Americans never heard of a political Super PAC. According to a new Washington Post/Pew Research Center survey, nearly four in ten say they’ve heard “nothing at all” about “increased spending in this year’s presidential election by outside groups not associated with the candidates or campaigns,” with another 36% saying they’ve heard only “a little” about the super PACs spending.
In other words, a large hunk of voters aren’t paying attention to the election. When if ever will they? Have they already made up their mind? And if so, what cemented that decision? Obviously I have. In fact at a recent gathering of Obama supporters we were asked to explain why we chose to support him. As there were 45 people at the gathering, we were asked to keep it short. I quickly ticked off three reasons: intelligence, empathy and wisdom.
Yet I would imagine that there are different clusters of three for those not voting for Mr. Obama. One wonders if this triplex is pro-Romney or anti-Obama. I’m betting that more are the latter.
Are Americans more intolerant of race or religion?A Pew survey [released 7/26/12] on religion and politics finds that nearly four years into his presidency the view that Barack Obama is Muslim persists. Currently, 17% of registered voters say that Obama is Muslim; 49% say he is Christian, while 31% say they do not know Obama’s religion. On Romney’s Mormonism, the poll found that voters have little interest in learning more about Romney’s religious beliefs. Just 16% said they wanted to hear more about Romney’s religious beliefs. There is a stark difference in the phrases ‘say that Obama is a Muslim’ and the phrase, ‘learning more about Romney’s religious beliefs.’
Seventeen percent of registered voters.
Patently obvious is Obama’s racial background. The one-drop rule of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act, slightly amended by the “Pocahontas exception.” Queer stuff in the Land of the Free.
So Obama is black and Muslim. Romney is not.
Pew additionally states: fewer say Obama is Christian – and more say he is Muslim – than did so in October 2008, near the end of the last presidential campaign. The increase since 2008 is particularly concentrated among conservative Republicans, about a third of whom (34%) describe the president as a Muslim.
Of course, the President didn’t carry those conservative Republican states in 2008 and he surely will not in 2012. His blackness assured that already, and the ‘Muslim’ factor trumped it all.
So that leaves the purple states who seem to have enough people in them who are race/religious impartial. Ohio is the most purple state of all with a 1% differential in ‘swing.’ If neither race nor religion matters to the Ohio swing voters, then what does matter? The economy?
If it is the economy, then President Obama has clear lead. His backing of the auto industry resonates well here. Ohio’s unemployment rate continued its downward trend from 8.8 in May 2011 to 7.2 in June of this year. If it is ‘the economy, stupid!’ then Ohio stays blue.
Beyond the economic factor are women’s issues. This news item:
(HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that, thanks to the federal health care law, beginning today (August 1, 2012), 47 million women nationwide will have access to free prevention-related health care services without paying out of their own pocket. This means that, beginning today, 1,852,561 women in Ohio can take greater control over their health by having access to life-saving preventive care free of charge. There will be no copay for birth control pills.
Hmm. By the way, GOP vice-presidential hopeful, Rob Portman [OH] wrote a letter to the Department of Justice asking to have the new policy for women under the Affordable Care Act blocked from ever reaching Ohio. Portman delivered the Republicans’ weekly address, July 14, condemning the Affordable Care Act. How will those female suburban swing voters take this news?
Additionally, there is the Catholic voting bloc. In my neck of the woods, many Catholics are unhappy with the with hunt of Catholic sisters by the local bishop . The conservative bishop’s role in the investigation of the nation’s nuns has soured many Catholics here in the Toledo area. This type of conservatism leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many women in Ohio.
So, it may not be the economy that decides the color of Ohio in November. Race, religion, health care and women’s issues may tilt Ohio one way or the other. My guess is blue.