In any close basketball game, the last few minutes take just about forever. There are strategic time-outs to regroup and plan, and there are numerous fouls given by the team behind just to get the ball back. An election is no different, and Hurricane Sandy is the timeout needed by Team Obama to ice the win.
But they had the lead going into it. The economic reports coming out this week show the score very clearly, and it’s definitely Obama’s game to lose. As the press starts to bubble how big the lead is and Romney starts to foul out, we can see how this developed very clearly over the long summer – as was noted in Barataria all along.
The real difference between an election and a hoop game is that not many people know how to keep score.
We should start with the excellent news. Consumer confidence is way up, to 72.2 (50 is neutral) according to the Conference Board who conducts the survey. Construction spending is up modestly, in line with the developing upturn in home prices. These are positive trends that suggest holiday spending will be up, among other things, and we should start watching for an uptick in the net velocity of money.
But the biggest news is the ADP jobs report, which came in at a very strong +158k gain in October. The “official” Department of Labor report is due out today, but it’s not been particularly accurate and is only important for the headlines it generates. This is the jobs picture, over the entire Obama Administration so far, is by the ADP Reports:
That’s a net gain of nearly 1.4M jobs so far, or more interestingly 4.7M created since the bottom was hit in January 2010 – less than a year after Obama took office. The chart makes a nice smile, especially for Democrats.
There are many reasons why the election is clearly over – and the desperation shown by Romney makes it obvious that it is. The most important is the lead in critical states of Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. As noted here before, the story in Ohio has been one of neglect throughout the teeth of this Depression. Apparently they are doing better than they have in a long time and back the President that got them this far. The election was over quite a long time ago in these terms, as noted here.
Naturally, we do not know how this will play out down the ticket in the US House. It’s going to be close, no matter what, but a huge victory at the top may well move things further down. That’s one important difference between an election and a basketball game.
What matters more than anything is that the economy remains on track for a slow but steady recovery that should continue on into the next game, er, election. One of the great things about both sports and politics is that there is always next season, and when your team ends with the hardware you get to crow for only a little while before it starts up again. We don’t know how strong or healthy Democrats will really be going into the next season yet, but we do know that it’s likely to start pretty quickly once serious budget negotiations begin early next year.
Is this really nothing more than a hoop game with a lot of amateurs keeping score? Obama came through with a very strong lead with just a few seconds left on the clock. It wasn’t quite the buzzer-beater it was looking to be at the start of the year, but it came very close. What we have left to determine is the strength of the win and how strong the team will be when it comes time to claim the points from the recovery that is still gaining strength, slowly.
These final seconds are counting down painfully slowly, as they always do. A zillion polls buzz around citing utterly irrelevant statistics, filling time on the airwaves when there’s apparently nothing better going on down in the game. It’s always best to ignore them, maybe grab a beer, and start thinking about how strong the team is likely to be going into next season. None of the blather is going to change the score, and in economic terms Obama has indeed taken the lead he needs to put this thing on ice.