Obama's Swing State Strategy: Take Credit for GOP Accomplishments

In November 2010, U.S. voters gave the Republican Party majority status in the U.S. House of Representatives and narrowed the Democratic Party's majority in the Senate. Perhaps as important, in retrospect, to the country's economic well-being, newly elected GOP governors wrested control of ten statehouses while the party gained roughly 20 state legislative chambers.

Perversely, all the good work the nation's Republican governors have done since then to keep their states afloat may end up benefiting the presidential reelection prospects of Barack Obama -- if the GOP's candidates and strategists let it happen. Early signs are that they might.

Generously assuming that the second quarter's gross domestic product growth reading will come in at an annualized 2% (given the weak employment news of the past three months, is there really any chance that it will come in stronger than the first quarter's 1.9%?), the nation's economy has grown at a paltry, unacceptable 1.7% annual rate during the past six quarters. What has happened in Republican-dominated states since the 2010 elections may be all that has kept the country from avoiding another recession -- so far.

A recent Examiner.com item by Robert Elliott noted that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has decreased since January 2011 in all 17 states which elected Republican governors in November 2010, especially in the ten where Republicans succeeded Democrats, and in the vast majority of cases by more than the overall national decline of 0.9 points from 9.1% to 8.2%. Just a few of the noteworthy declines since then through May 2012, the latest month available, include the following:

  • Ohio (from 9.0% to 7.3%) -- Buckeye State Governor John Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature eliminated a projected $8 billion deficit without raising taxes. Kasich also turned down "free" federal funding for what would have been a disastrous "high-speed rail" debacle. Since then, the state has been able to add over $400 million to a previously fully depleted rainy day fund.
  • Michigan (from 10.9% to 8.5%) -- Rick Snyder's first year showed resolve similar to that exhibited by Kasich. The unemployment rate in the state outside of the basket case known as Metro Detroit is down to 7.7%.
  • Oklahoma (from 6.2% to 4.8%) -- Immigration reforms passed several years ago helped the Sooner State keep its unemployment rate relatively low through the recession. Strong governance by Mary Fallin and a booming energy sector have brought its unemployment rate to within striking distance of full employment.
  • Wisconsin (from 7.7% to 6.8%) -- The 0.9-point drop doesn't seem impressive until you consider how many businesses have probably avoided locating or expanding in the Badger State until learning whether Governor Scott Walker would defeat the left's recall effort. Until Walker prevailed, so-called "progressives" actively worked to thwart not only his public-sector reforms, but his efforts at bringing in new private-sector jobs.