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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Why Dems Should Hold High Fives Over New Jobs Report

From the new Bureau off Labor Statistics new “Employment Situation Summary“:

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 288,000, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 6.3 percent in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics reported today. Employment gains were widespread, led by job growth
in professional and business services, retail trade, food services and drinking
places, and construction.

While these numbers are encouraging, Dems should be wary about making optimistic pubic comments. The April report may be a one-time downward bump, and the usual statistical concerns apply. In addition, recent message-testing by DCorps indicates that crowing about “recovery” may be unwise

Democrats have to be hard-hitting and focused on the economy. As a start, Democrats should bury any mention of “the recovery.” That message was tested in the bipartisan poll we conducted for NPR, and it lost to the Republican message championed by Karl Rove. The Democratic message missed how much trouble people are in, and doesn’t convince them that policymakers really understand or are even focusing on the problems they continue to face. That framework gets in the way of a direct economic message.

At The National Journal, Charlie Cook adds:

From a political perspective, what a cross section of American voters think of the economy matters more than a panel of the top economists. Last month’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 57 percent of Americans believe we are still in a recession; just 41 percent say we are not, with pessimism just gradually diminishing over the last few years. It is what average people think that’s important, not what economists say…To this day, Americans don’t think the economy has been effectively dealt with. Thus, maybe Democrats should avoid the “R” word.

There is another “R” word Democrats should not hesitate to use in a specific way — asking voters to think about the role of Republicans in preventing the unemployment rate from falling even further.

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