Stagnant employment numbers on Friday could mean a significant shift in the current presidential campaign away from health care and taxes, and toward job growth for consumers.
The political arena has been consumed for weeks with the Supreme Court decisions on health care and immigration, and the issue of how (or if) the mandate to buy health insurance is actually a new tax.
Lost in the commotion is one political issue that polls have shown matters the most to voters: jobs.
Research released in late June from Gallup shows that historically, health care is a top issue for voters only went it is being debated in Congress, or facing a key legal decision.
“Healthcare may be an important issue when Americans are reminded of it in survey questions, but relatively few routinely mention it as the most important problem facing the U.S., except when it is the subject of intense legislative debate,” Gallup said.
The Gallup survey also showed that about 20 percent of Americans were satisfied with the country’s direction in June. Those are the same poll numbers enjoyed by Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush when both incumbents lost re-election bids.
Gallup also said the economy and unemployment have ranked first and second as the most important problems to voters since December 2009.
A CNN poll from July 3rd showed the economy remains the top issue for Americans. It digressed from the Gallup survey, showing a higher level of confidence in the economy’s future.
A Pew Research Center study also showed in April that the economy (86%) and jobs (84%) were the two issues ranked as most important by voters. More recent Pew studies showed the economy and the 2012 election were the two news topics most closely followed by the public.
After Friday’s employment report, GOP candidate Mitt Romney was quick to pounce on the news.
“The president’s policies have not gotten America working again and the president is going to have to stand up and take responsibility for it,” Romney told reporters in New Hampshire.
Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, responded by saying that more work needs to be done on the economy, as he pushed part of the blame back on the George W. Bush administration.
“It is critical that we continue the policies that build an economy that works for the middle class and makes us stronger and more secure as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession,” said Krueger.
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