Saturday, August 16, 2008

Indiana's Jobless Rate & Political Polls

Today the Indianapolis Star reported that Indiana's unemployment rate rose to 6.3%, the highest state unemployment in 16 years. Indianapolis' metropolitan area, however, saw job growth, especially when compared to the hard hit industrial cities in the state that has seen a loss of manufacturing jobs.

It will be interesting to see what effect the new job numbers and the presidential candidates running ads will have on the numbers in the Governor's race. My guess is that things are tightening up. A couple months ago I would have said Jill Long Thompson had a 20% chance to win the election. I think it's risen sharply in the last 30 days, closing in on 40%.

The last poll I saw was a poll released from Daniels' campaign showing the Governor leading Democrat Jill Long Thompson 50-36. Generally, polls that are released by candidates are for fundraising purposes and are chiefly aimed at making the candidate good. They should be taken with a grain of salt. To a lay person a 14 point lead looks good. However, experienced politicos would focus on the Governor's numbers as revealing a problem. It used to be taught in Campaign 101 that an incumbent who had an under 60% re-elect number was potentially in trouble and a below 50% number was a death knell. With the increased cynicism of the electorate today and the negative campaigning turning off people to candidates, the 60/50 rule is no longer a good barometer.

However, even if the old 60/50 rule of polling for an incumbent was replaced with a more realistic 50/40 rule, the poll should still sets off warning lights for the Governor's campaign. His political advisors would be wise to not ignore the lights and instead learn what people like and do not like about the Governor and retool the campaign message accordingly.

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