The unemployment rate in Ohio — the state that has voted the way the nation has in 12 consecutive presidential elections — slid a couple of notches to 7 percent in September. That’s the word from the Labor Department today.
The unemployment rate in Ohio in September 1984 — when Republican President Ronald Reagan was running for re-election with his appeal to a sense that it’s “morning again in America” — was 9.1 percent.
Reagan’s ad opened with the note that more American men and women would go to work that day than at any time in history and asked, “Why would we ever want to return to where we were, less than four short years ago.”
Obama cannot say the same thing about employment, 0.1 percent lower than when he took office. Employment had grown by 5 percent during Reagan’s first term.
Yet Obama is saying the same thing about returning to the policies of four years ago — George W. Bush’s policies — in his campaign against Republican Mitt Romney.
And he is waging that campaign in very few states.
Bush saw the similar picture in 2004: A 0.3 percent job loss during his first term.
And he was re-elected, with Ohio’s help.
Ohio was among six of eight states considered 2012 presidential election battlegrounds that showed a September drop in unemployment, according to Labor Department data less than three weeks before voters head to the polls.
As Bloomberg’s Michelle Jamrisko reports, the jobless rate also fell in Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, Iowa and Nevada, the agency said today in Washington. The rate was unchanged from August in New Hampshire and Virginia.
Joblessness in five of the eight states is below the national average of 7.8 percent — which also dipped below 8 percent in September for the first time in 44 months, and reached its lowest level since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.
Republican Mitt Romney is campaigning with the argument that so many people have quit looking for jobs in Obama’s weak economy that the numbers mask the reality of millions of people still suffering.
The average of public opinion polls in Ohio from Oct. 5-17 has shown Obama holding a 2.4 percentage point advantage over Romney, RealClearPolitics shows.
The Gallup daily tracking of likely voters this week has shown Romney gaining a 7 percentage point advantage over Obama among likely voters surveyed nationally. That tracking is heavily weighted by overwhelming opposition to Obama in the South, where Romney holds an Electoral College advantage in most states anyway. In the East, Midwest and West, it shows Obama leading.
The latest Labor numbers suggest a good morning in Ohio for Obama on Nov. 6.