Swing states' economic recovery could help Obama in November

Some key battlegrounds are doing better than the nation as a whole. And even if the president’s policies didn’t cause the improvement, it could help his case that the economic outlook has brightened under his stewardship.

Auto and steel workers in battleground Ohio are getting jobs again. The unemployment rate in the state on Election Day is expected to be close to 7 percent. The national rate, now 8.1 percent, isn’t likely to be much below 8 percent on Nov. 6 — and could be higher.

“Most of the swing states by the third quarter of this year will have a lower unemployment rate than the national average,” said Xu Cheng, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics who compiled the latest state-by-state economic data and updated Moody’s voting model for POLITICO. “And most of the battlegrounds will be below 8 percent unemployment, which will negate the ‘grumpy voter effect.’” Cheng was referring to data suggesting voters will discount by half any improvement in joblessness if the national rate remains above 8.