Can government benefits turn an election?

During the past four years, the Obama administration’s aggressive promotion of the food-stamp program has increased the number of recipients by 18.5 million. Do these people feel the same level of discontent about economic conditions as the rest of the voting population?

Unemployment insurance that lasted no longer than 55 weeks in 1980 and 72 weeks in 1992 now can last 99 weeks. …

If you are concerned about your well-being and worried about a failed recovery—but getting new help from the government—do you vote for the candidate who promises more jobs or do you support the candidate who promises more government benefits? When tens of millions of people are gaining from the massive expansion of government programs in the past four years, the question is extremely relevant, especially when Mr. Obama’s victory in 2008, widely described as a blowout, involved a national margin of only 10 million votes. …

Based on the economy, Mr. Obama should lose on Nov. 6. Yet it seems implausible that tens of millions of Americans who have received additional government benefits during his presidency can be completely unaffected by that largess. The election will test the relative power of private-sector aspirations and public-sector dependence.