Bottom line, people vote their pocket book. As I watched the returns come in the other night, I contemplated the factors that caused this to happen. Depending on what camp you are in, you might look at different statistics to justify your position.
You can look at statistics like inflation, GDP and unemployment. Those stats are somewhat favorable at this period in the Obama Presidency. They have been bad in the not-too-distant past, but right now, they are more favorable.
I think there are issues that are nearer and dearer than the most frequently examined statistics. I believe the central issue in this election concerned wages and the stagnant wage growth in the United States during the Obama Presidency.
With unemployment hovering at 5.9%, you would say that unemployment is not the issue. Certainly, you can make the argument that a large percentage of the potential labor force has left the labor force. But, you can’t argue that real wages have remained stagnant at 1.4% TOTAL since 2009.
The take-home pay of the electorate is not growing. Politicians can say until they are blue in the face that the economy is turning around and and things are getting better. But, when Joe the Plumber goes into his wallet and finds his wages to be stagnant, this becomes his central voting issue.
No doubt, one can argue that stagnant demand for labor brought on by a flat demand for goods and services put us in the situation that we are in. But, there are other factors such as the extension of long-term unemployment benefits that have potentially caused a shrinking of the labor market and a decrease in wage demand. And, potential concerns on the part of business owners around ACA have also potentially led to the stagnant nature of our labor market.