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August 21, 2004

Election Year Economic Indicators

Glassman on economics indicators in the summer of 2004.

Yes, the number of people employed in July rose only slightly, by 32,000. But the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent--down from 6.3 percent a year ago and the lowest since October 2001, right after the 9/11 attacks.

The rate today is lower than when Bill Clinton was running for re-election in 1996. It's lower than the average unemployment rate in the 1990s--not to mention the 1980s and 1970s.


Over the past 12 months, David Malpass of Bear Stearns points out, the U.S. economy--measured by our GDP--has grown at a rate of 4.8 percent. That's faster than in any 12-month period during the Clinton administration and three times as fast as Germany and France are growing.

Yet Kerry is doing well in the polls. I am puzzled. The economy is strong, and the challenger is from the extreme left of his party, uncharismatic, undistinguished, and hurt by a noticeable third-party candidate, yet opinion polls show him neck and neck with the incumbent. The challenger does have strong support from the media, but is that really enough?

I wonder if polling generally favors the Democrat until late in a presidential race. I'll be on the lookout for historical data on that. It's what I'd predict, since the Democrats have enormous free advertising via the networks and the newspapers, which must comprise, in effect, 90% of spending until late in the campaign season.

Posted by erasmuse at August 21, 2004 12:46 PM

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