Too little too late on jobs for Dems?

Too little too late on jobs for Dems?
© Getty Images

Good news on the U.S. unemployment rate may not be coming fast enough to save the jobs of Democrats.

A new report Friday found the unemployment rate dropped to a six-year low in September at 5.9 percent, with the economy adding 248,000 jobs.


Vice President Biden said the news was worth celebrating, but it might be too late to save Democratic Senate and House seats. Republicans who hope they are about to add to their House majority and take over the Senate sure think so.

“Unfortunately for the blue team — with just about a month to go until Election Day — the die is already cast,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

Democrats searching for a bright side argue the slow economic recovery has helped their party.

“The best explanation for why a GOP wave has not materialized this year is the last few months of strong economic news,” said Robert Shapiro, a former economic adviser to President Clinton.

“Voters don't need to follow jobs reports to know we've moved back from the edge of the cliff that was 2008,” said Margie Omero, president of Momentum Analysis, a Democratic polling firm.  

“And improvements in the economy help Democrats,” she said. 

Still, there’s ample evidence to suggest voters aren’t happy with the economy’s trajectory.

A George Washington University poll last month found 70 percent of likely voters think the country is headed in the wrong direction. 

Just 39 percent of voters approve of President Obama’s handling of the economy, according to a recent YouGov poll reported by The Economist, while 56 percent disapprove.

Obama has begun to tout an accelerating economy.

He pointed this week to the declining unemployment rate as evidence his policies are bringing the country back.

“The country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office," Obama said during an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

Still, Obama acknowledged many voters aren’t feeling an improvement — partly due to wages that haven’t gone up. Friday’s jobs report found stagnant wages.

Most Democratic candidates are treading lightly on the improving economic news, though House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday credited the president and Democrats for “enacting policies that put our nation back on a path to create jobs and renew opportunity for all Americans, not just the privileged few.”

Pelosi has reportedly been urging Obama to talk up his economic stewardship more aggressively, and Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the liberal Democracy For America, said that progressives need to take a more aggressive approach in their campaign rhetoric.

“While the new jobs numbers are a good sign, if Democrats fail to provide a real contrast to the billionaire-backed Republicans by caving into the Wall Street-wing of the party and not going big on Warren-wing populist progressive priorities, it's going to be very long election night,” Chamberlain said, referring to Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Warren spends big on staff in high-stakes 2020 gamble On The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost MORE (D-Mass.).

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, agreed that sluggish wages are affecting the mood of voters.

“Since most people judge the health of the economy based on whether they received a pay increase and how big it was, the job market isn’t where it probably needs to be to have a positive impact on this election for Democrats,” Zandi said.  

But he said there is a silver lining. The stronger growth this year suggests an economy picking up steam.

“However, the economy should be a tailwind for Democrats by the 2016 election,” Zandi said.