In campaigns, timing can be everything. And the Obama campaign has picked a good time — the very last days of a close campaign — for an extraordinary run of good news and good luck.
In the good news bucket is the high marks President Obama received for his handling of the Sandy superstorm. According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 79 percent of voters say the president has done a “good’ or “excellent” job responding to the storm. Among those voters is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who made national news with his praise of the president.
Further extending the White House’s string of good headlines was the endorsement of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said he was moved by Sandy to endorse the candidate with a better plan to address catastrophic climate change. That took one more day of headlines away from Mitt Romney, who had been laying low during the storm but was back on the campaign trail.
Friday morning, the final pre-election jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy had blown through expectations to add more than 171,000 jobs in October, and that we’d added 84,000 more jobs than we thought in August and September. That is, by any measure, a good report, and one that crucially deprives the Romney campaign of ammunition in the final days of the race.
It’s also a lucky report. The initial jobs numbers are off by, on average, about 100,000 jobs. In August, the first pass said we’d added a disappointing 96,000 jobs, and the Obama campaign got lashed in the headlines. We now know that the economy actually added 192,000 jobs — a much stronger total, and one that would have driven very different news coverage. It would’ve been entirely possible for October to have been both a good month for jobs and a bad initial report for the president. But that didn’t happen.
The result of all this is that the Obama campaign – and their turnout operation — heads into election day buoyed by good news, good headlines, and good luck. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign has spent the last week of the race hunkered down from Sandy and then responding to events and stories that favor their opponent. Both campaigns have had their good weeks and their bad weeks, of course, but in a race that’s this close, having the final good week of the campaign might actually matter.