Tags: Scott Walker | midterms | governor races | economy | incumbents

'Recovering' Economy a Major Drag on Governors in Midterms

By    |   Thursday, 30 October 2014 08:43 AM

In a midterm election year where so much attention has been focused on U.S Senate races and whether Republicans will pick up enough seats to wrest control of the chamber, there are also several high-stakes gubernatorial races where incumbents are struggling despite an economy purportedly in recovery.

Party affiliation doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to voters’ perceptions about the state of the economy, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reports that in spite of gains in consumer confidence, incumbent governors, both Republican and Democrat, are facing tough re-election battles.

Governors in places like Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Michigan and Connecticut are all immersed in too-close-to-call battles to keep their jobs.

Colorado and Florida lead the nation in reducing unemployment over the past four years. But those states’ governors — Democrat John Hickenlooper in Colorado and Republican Rick Scott in Florida — are "battling voter skepticism" during a time when many Americans "haven’t seen much improvement in their own household finances or consider the recovery too weak to trust," according to the Journal.

At a recent candidate debate in Florida, Scott blamed Crist, the Sunshine State’s former governor, for the "economic meltdown" that resulted in Floridians losing hundreds of thousands of jobs, NBC News reported. Crist blamed the recession on the job losses and said the economic recovery, not Scott’s policies, account for why Florida is faring better today than when Crist was in office.

In Colorado, incumbent Hickenlooper is in the fight of his political life. This despite personal income being up, all jobs lost during the recession restored, and new jobs having been added in the energy, real estate, and health care industries. Plus housing prices are up 25 percent since 2012, according to the Journal.

"I've never seen things turn against an incumbent governor quite so swiftly and quite so close to Election Day," retired Colorado College political science professor Bob Loevy told the Denver Post last month.

Ditto for the incumbent Democratic governor in Connecticut as well as Republican governors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maine and Wisconsin, the Journal reports.

The economy is the likely culprit.

"Unemployment is down and consumer confidence is up, but wages have fallen or flatlined for many Americans," according to the Journal. "A record number of people work temporary jobs. In Florida, nearly a quarter of homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth."

The newspaper noted that an August Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found "three of four adults lacked confidence that their children’s generation would have a better life than they did, an all-time high measure of such pessimism."

Job creation hasn’t seemed to help Republican governors in Michigan or Wisconsin either.

In The Great Lake State, Gov. Rick Snyder has overseen 300,000 new private-sector jobs and a drop in unemployment from 11 percent to just more than 7 percent, yet he still faces a close race, the Journal reports.

Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, who survived a general election and then a recall election, is locked in a close race with his Democratic challenger, businesswoman Mary Burke, who is hammering Walker for creating 100,000 private-sector jobs and not the 250,000 he promised.

President Barack Obama has taken to the campaign trail to convince voters that the economy is thriving.

"It is indisputable that our economy is stronger today than when I took office," he said in an October speech at Northwestern University.

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In a midterm election year where so much attention has been focused on U.S Senate races, there are also several high-stakes gubernatorial races where incumbents are struggling despite an economy purportedly in recovery.
midterms, governor races, economy, incumbents
Thursday, 30 October 2014 08:43 AM
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