NRO’s Eliana Johnson picked up on an interesting moment during yesterday’s This Week on ABC. George Stephanopoulos asked former Obama administration economist Austan Goolsbee about the political impact of the jobs report coming up this Friday, just four days before most voters cast their ballots. Goolsbee notes that only “unbelievable outliers … crack through the shell” of the electorate’s consciousness for a single-month’s report. Goolsbee then admits that last month’s jobs report was “artificially too optimistic” — an “unbelievable outlier,” in other words.
So why admit that now? Well, that “unbelievable outlier” is likely to get corrected in this month’s household survey, and that will drive the jobless rate up. Goolsbee argues, in other words, that a jump in the jobless rate won’t impact voter psyche because voters already know the economy is improving regardless of these “unbelievable outliers”:
I think it might be Goolsbee that’s being artificially too optimistic here. Polls show that voters don’t believe that the economy has improved significantly, even after that one-month outlier last month. Mitt Romney has now taken a solid lead on economic issues in every poll, a move that occurred after that too-optimistic report for September. A more negative report for October might end up reinforcing that conviction that we are heading in the wrong direction, especially if the correction puts the jobless rate back above 8%.
The Obama campaign seems pretty worried about that, too, and it’s not surprising that they have surrogates out trying to lower expectations before the jobs report lands on Friday morning.