Newspaper article International New York Times

Jobs Figures Lift Election Prospects of Democrats ; Improvements in U.S. Could Help Counter Polls and International Crises

Newspaper article International New York Times

Jobs Figures Lift Election Prospects of Democrats ; Improvements in U.S. Could Help Counter Polls and International Crises

Article excerpt

The improvements that were announced on Thursday kindled hopes of a lift to the party's prospects in this fall's midterm elections.

While the United States jobs report for June sent stock markets soaring as investors celebrated another sign of a rebounding economy, voters are hardly so easily moved.

Yet for President Obama and congressional Democrats, the numbers that were released on Thursday kindled hopes of a lift to their party's downbeat prospects in this fall's midterm elections.

Even as international crises dominate the news and the attention of the White House and Congress, the economy continues to be the main concern of most voters, polls show. So Mr. Obama, who struggles daily to balance the two imperatives, on Thursday appeared at a local hub for technology innovators and hailed the hiring report as evidence of a positive trend.

On the eve of Independence Day at a firm called 1776, the president appealed to Republicans"'economic patriotism" to work with him to strengthen the economy. But his main audience was voters: Mr. Obama expressed hope that "the American people look at today's news and understand that, in fact, we are making strides. We have not seen more consistent job growth since the '90s."

In effect, Mr. Obama is trying to do within months what he has not been able to do in the five years since the recession officially ended: persuade most Americans of the economy's comeback from the near collapse of the global financial system. The June jobs report - - showing 288,000 new hires, the unemployment rate down to 6.1 percent and positive revisions to the April and May jobs numbers -- gave the White House and congressional Democrats grounds for optimism.

Republicans, however, remain confident of winning control of both chambers of Congress for the final two years of Mr. Obama's administration, and emphasized other, negative data -- the president's continued slump in the polls, and a majority's disapproval of his overall job performance as well as his handling of the economy. Reince Priebus, the Republican Party chairman, in a statement, said "millions of our fellow Americans think the American dream is slipping away because they can't find good jobs in the Obama economy."

And, Republicans argue, the four months left until November are too few to shift the political winds Democrats face.

"Years of past data tell us the election environment in an off- year election is set by June or July," said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster. "With the president's ratings lower than they were in October of 2010" -- a month before the previous midterm elections, in which Republicans scored big gains -- "the Democrats will be facing very difficult political terrain this fall."

Democrats acknowledge that they have a midterm disadvantage typical for the party that holds the White House. …

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