Will Friday’s jobs report affect the election?

Updated
The new jobs report
The new jobs report

It’s the first Friday of the month, and you know what that means - a jobs report! The October numbers show little change. Unemployment is currently at 7.9%, with 171,000 new jobs added during the month. Clearly, this isn’t a game changer. Will it affect the presidential race at all?

You’ve heard it a million times: this race is going to come down to the wire. According to the latest Real Clear Politics numbers, Obama holds a slight lead nationally at 47.5%, compared to Romney’s 47.2%. When people start walking into the voting booths, how much will they be thinking about today’s jobs numbers?

The report was better than analysts had expected. But obviously, it’s a long road back. Unemployment will be a preeminent challenge for whichever candidate secures the White House. According to Peter Morici, former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, if we want to hit a 6% unemployment rate, the government will have to add 12.6 million new jobs over the next three years. Morici’s ideas for job creation include increasing our domestic oil production, addressing the trade imbalance with China, and curbing health mandates/costs.

We’ve all heard that no president since FDR has won re-election with the unemployment rate over 7.2%. But this is by no means a magic number. Every president has faced a variety of very different circumstances, and while the unemployment rate is a fairly reliable yardstick on the state of the economy, it’s only one of many factors voters take into consideration. Where one person sees a persistent lack of progress, another sees the 25th consecutive month of job gains.

We don’t know how, or if, this last jobs report before the election will matter. But luckily we only have to wait four days to find out.

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Will Friday's jobs report affect the election?

Updated