"One-Term President": Republicans Know Jobs Are Key To 2012

March 14, 2011 1:14 pm ET

Republican strategists know that the economy is a hugely important factor in presidential elections. Over the past few years, Republicans have ignored their own contributions to the lagging economy and high unemployment rates, pushing the message that President Obama is to blame in order to damage his chances of reelection in 2012.

"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 10/25/10

The Economy Is An Extremely Important Factor In Presidential Elections

"Obama Has Reason To Worry" Because A "Factor In The Defeat Of Incumbents Is A Bad Economy." According to Julian E. Zelizer, Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University:

The second factor in the defeat of incumbents is a bad economy. Here Obama has reason to worry.

Both Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter governed in an era of stagflation. The nation suffered from unemployment and inflation at the same time (which economists had said was impossible). In Carter's case, the nation had also been shocked by a second oil embargo by OPEC in 1979.

When George H.W. Bush set off to run in 1992, a recession was making Americans worry about their finances and job security. In all three cases, their opponents were able to position themselves as candidates who would revive the economy. [CNN, 3/7/11]

Nate Silver: It Would Require 'Something Extraordinary' For Obama To Win Reelection In A Very Bad Economy. According to statistician Nate Silver: "It is hard to imagine Mr. Obama failing to be re-elected if the economy is humming along at a 5 percent growth rate by this time next year, and 600,000 jobs are being created every month. Likewise, if unemployment is still at 10 percent or if there is a second period of recession brought on by, for instance, the European debt crisis - something extraordinarily might have to occur for him to win a second term. [...] Mr. Obama, of course, will do better if the economy is performing better rather than worse. But exactly how well he will do - enough to win re-election and, if so, by a comfortable margin? - is not something the data can tell us right now." [New York Times, 11/22/10, emphasis added]

Nate Silver: Even With Strong GDP Growth, Sluggish Unemployment Could Mean "Bad News For Mr. Obama." According to statistician Nate Silver: "The state of the economy, undoubtedly, will be a huge part of the equation. The vast majority of economists expect it to continue to grow through 2012; the forecasts, in fact, have become slightly more optimistic over the past several weeks. The bad news for Mr. Obama is that the forecasts are more optimistic about G.D.P. growth than they are about unemployment: economists also expect the employment picture to improve, but at a sluggish pace, with the unemployment rate most likely being in the low 8 percentage point range at the time voters go to the polls in 2012. How voters might react to this situation - one in which the employment picture has improved, but is still rather poor in an absolute sense - is an open question, and one for which the historical evidence is of relatively little use." [New York Times, 12/27/10, emphasis added]

Republican Strategists Emphasize Importance Of Jobs

GOP Pollster Frank Luntz: Republicans Should Be "Talking About Jobs, Jobs, Jobs."  From a Fox News appearance by GOP pollster Frank Luntz on Hannity:

LUNTZ: Now, Sean. We tested a whole bunch of video that you're going to be seeing over the coming weeks and months. And I want to give Newt Gingrich credit because he talked about the debt commission and he said that the commission was the wrong commission on the wrong topic. They should have been talking about jobs, jobs, jobs, no taxes, less spending. Gingrich tested better than any -- how many of you thought Gingrich, regards of who you support, tested the best of all the people you've seeing? Gingrich was our winner tonight. And remember this was a Huckabee, Romney crowd behind me. [Fox News' Hannity via Real Clear Politics, 2/7/11]

GOP Strategist Karl Rove: Obama Has "Raised Expectations" For Recovery And Could Be In Trouble In 2012. From Your World with Neil Cavuto:

ROVE: Maybe. But, look, if we have 8 percent unemployment at the time of the 2012 presidential election, the president is going to be in trouble.


ROVE: Because, look, that means that unemployment is going to be nowhere near where he said it would be today, if we had simply done what he said and passed the stimulus bill.

And 8 percent unemployment with this president, particularly when he has raised expectations so high -- remember, I mean, think about that. We are six million fewer people employed than the masterminds of this economic stimulus package told us where we would be at this point. So, I'm happy...

CAVUTO: What if companies start opening the spigot?

ROVE: Look, the economy is going to recover at some point. We know that. The question is...

CAVUTO: You just don't think it's going to be robust?

ROVE: Well, and how robust it's going to be. And, look, at the end of the day, where is the credit going to go?

I think a lot of people believe the American economy is strong enough to recover. But will they credit the stimulus bill? Will they credit the president's policies? Or will they think it's been in spite of the president's policies, not because of them? And I think there is a healthy skepticism out there about this president's approach. [Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto via Nexis, 1/7/11, emphasis added]

Over The Past Two Years, Republicans Have Used Slow Job Growth To Bludgeon Democrats

The GOP Used Health Care Talking Points Highlighting Inflated Job Loss Predictions. From the GOP's talking points on health care, via GOP.gov: "According to economic modeling by the president's own chief economic advisor, the business tax increases alone will destroy up to 5.5 million jobs." [GOP.gov, 9/8/09]

  • PolitiFact.com Has Rated This Claim "False." [PolitiFact.com, 11/4/09]

Republicans Dishonestly Used Jobs To Justify Health Care Repeal.  According to McClatchy:

Despite what Republicans say, the 2010 health care law isn't necessarily a job killer.

Republicans have titled their effort to overturn the law the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act," and that's their favorite talking point against it. The House of Representatives will start debate on repeal Tuesday and probably vote Wednesday.

Saying that the law is a job killer doesn't necessarily make it one, however, and independent experts say that such a conclusion is at least premature, if not unfounded.

"The claim has no justification," said Micah Weinberg, a senior research fellow at the centrist New America Foundation's Health Policy Program.

Since the law contains dual mandates that most individuals must obtain health insurance coverage and most employers must offer it by 2014, "the effect on employment is probably zero or close to it," said Amitabh Chandra, a professor of public policy at Harvard University.

House Republicans defend their job-killer claim in a 19-page Jan. 6 report, "ObamaCare: A Budget-Busting, Job-Killing Health Care Law." But some of its points are out of date or omit offsetting information that would weaken the argument. [McClatchy, 1/17/11, emphasis added]

GOP Focused On Jobs In Creating Campaign Document. From The Hill:

House Republicans intend to make the economy and jobs a major part of the new Contract With America they hope to unveil in September. 

Republicans argue jobs will be a winning issue for them this fall, partly because they opposed a stimulus package that has enlarged the government and budget deficit while doing too little to stop a skyrocketing unemployment rate that now stands at 9.5 percent. 

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) has been charged with putting together the section on jobs, which Republicans see as a unifying policy position for a conference that unanimously rejected President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus package last year.

Roskam said he'll be meeting with small-business owners and other job creators rather than economists to develop the economic plank of a new conference platform.

"There's a sense of clarity that jobs are something that we need to focus on, and who better to talk to than employers and small business[es] and job creators?" [The Hill, 7/7/10, emphasis added]

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele: "The Top Job For The President And Congress Is Jobs." From a Politico op-ed by former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele: "What voters have been saying - to incumbents and challengers alike since early 2009 - is that the top job for the president and Congress is jobs. Voters want elected officials to focus, above all, on jobs and the economy. Regardless of their region, demographic or economic background, voters are looking to elect candidates who can bring our country back from nearly double-digit unemployment, record deficits and the most dramatic expansion of government in our history. Yet Democrats have spent the past two years pursuing a job-killing agenda that has resulted in millions of our citizens being thrown out of work." [Politico, 10/14/10, emphasis added]

Rep. Cantor: "They Want To See Us Focus On Jobs." From Politico: "'Tonight's election is about listening to the people and that was the message that's being sent across this land is they don't like this health care bill, and they want to see us focus on jobs, and there's just been no results that match the expectations of the people,' Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who is poised to become House Majority Leader, told CBS News late Tuesday." [Politico, 11/3/10, emphasis added]

Rep. Mike Pence: Creating Jobs "Has To Be The First Priority And I Believe Will Be The First Priority If Republicans Are Given Another Opportunity To Lead." According to O. Kay Henderson, Rep. Pence said: "I also believe that it will be imperative that the new congress focus just as much energy on getting our economy moving again, making sure that in the city and on the farm, Americans have more of their own hard-earned resources to invest in ways that will create jobs, so putting our fiscal house in order, creating policies that will open the doors of opportunity to families during this difficult economy and create jobs has to be the first priority and I believe will be the first priority if Republicans are given another opportunity to lead." [OKHenderson.com, 9/30/10, emphasis added]

Speaker Of The House John Boehner: "When Are We Going To Focus On The Economy?" According to a press release by John Boehner: "When are we going to address the number one issue on the minds of our fellow citizens? When are we going to focus on the economy and getting people back to work, instead of all of the job-killing policies that we're seeing move through this Congress? When are we going to begin to listen once again to the American people who sent us here to do their work? Because the American people are asking 'where are the jobs?'" [JohnBoehner.House.gov, 3/25/10, emphasis added]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "The American People Want Us To Put Aside The Left-Wing Wish List And Work Together On Helping To Create Jobs." From The New York Times: "The American people want us to put aside the left-wing wish list and work together on helping to create jobs and restore the economy to health and prosperity," he [McConnell] said. "There is no reason the two parties can't work together on achieving these goals. But whether or not the administration has a midcourse correction, Republicans have a plan for following through on the wishes of the American people." [New York Times, 11/4/10]

Senator Jon Kyl: "Job Growth Must Be The First Priority." From Senator Kyl's website: "The American people have been telling Washington that promoting job growth must be the first priority." [Kyl.Senate.Gov, 4/10/10]

Governor Haley Barbour: "Jobs Are The Biggest Issue In The Country." According to CBS News: "Barbour jumped on the bandwagon: '[I]t's interesting that the American people have been saying from the day Barack Obama got sworn in, 'Jobs are the biggest issue in the country, get our economy back going, it's the biggest issue for the country.' But for the last eight months, all I've heard about is the Democratic Party trying to ram health care down the country's throat.'" [CBSNews, 1/31/10]

Rove Op-Ed: "Democrats Are Being Held Accountable For [The Economy's] Poor Performance." From a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Republican Strategist Karl Rove: "Instead, they [the Democrats] will be killed at the polls. This election's top issue is the economy, and the Democrats are being held accountable for its poor performance. After all, the party controls the White House and Congress and passed all the spending and stimulus measures it could dream up." [Wall Street Journal, 10/7/10, emphasis added]