How important is today's jobs report (unemployment fell to 7.8%!) compared to the coverage of the debate? And do you know if this changes the "fundamentals" models in any significant way at all? Or are those sorta set predicting a close election with Obama as a slight favorite? Superficially it seems to me that it will squash the "Romney Won" debate meme and makes his over/under talking point about 8% unemployment look pretty foolish.Hey, I can outsource this one to John Sides, who has an excellent item up already:
The shortest answer is: probably not much. In my earlier post on late changes in the economy, I noted this line from Robert Erikson’s and Christopher Wlezien’s analysis of nearly 60 years of economic and elections data:The only caution I'd put on that last point is that press coverage isn't entirely predictable; it's certainly possible that the jobs report could be a blip in the economic reporting but go away by tomorrow while the debate stays in the news for a while, undisturbed.
…one can predict that actual vote from the current income growth about as well in April as in November. By April, the economic cake is largely baked.
Which is to say, late changes in the economy aren’t that consequential.
If this jobs report matters in any way, it is by shifting the news coverage of the campaign from “Obama bombed in the debate” to “Hey, unemployment fell!” This report is enough of a departure from previous reports to generate some positive news coverage. And this will help to displace the positive news coverage Romney was receiving as a consequence of his debate performance. Given that it’s this news coverage that would boost Romney in the polls, news coverage of the job report could—conceivably, possibly, maybe—limit the boost.
Generally, I've been saying the same thing for the last few months. The general condition of the economy is a slow, unimpressive recovery, but still a recovery. That probably points to a close race, with Obama having a slight edge. Back in the winter or spring, a good or bad jobs report could hint to that changing, but by now any indications about the future are basically irrelevant to this election, which means that as long as the report is within the general range that we're seeing (anywhere from 0 to 200K) it's likely to have very small effects, mainly (as John said) centered around short-term press coverage. The only change is that short-term press coverage in October is presumably more important than short-term press coverage was in July or August.