Friday, April 16 2004
NEW JERSEY AND THE 9/11 EFFECT: A couple more thoughts on New Jersey. As noted below, the Fairleigh-Dickinson Public Mind poll showing Bush up 4 was a survey of registered voters, which makes it that much more interesting because this usually favors Democrats.

New Jersey is such a reliably left-leaning state (Gore won it by 15 points in 2000) the FD poll could lead you to conclude that it's either well off the mark or that it's possible there has been a drastic shift in public opinion in the Garden State since the 2000 election - which one would have to assume is attributable almost solely to September 11.

But is it conceivable there has been a twenty plus point swing in public opinion in New Jersey as a result of 9/11 even though we don't see such a drastic shift in any of the other state polls? The answer is a decided "maybe."

Pollster Scott Rasmussen sent us a note saying that he did some polling in New Jersey last year that registered a "significant" impact from 9/11. It may very well be that the effect of 9/11 has worn off in other parts of the country but still remains strong in New Jersey. We've gotten a few emails with anecdotal evidence suggesting as much.

Furthermore, there may be the slightest indication of a similar 9/11 effect in NY as well. Even though the latest Q Poll shows Kerry leading by 14 points, Kerry is still underperforming Gore's win over Bush in 2000 by 11 points.

So I guess it's conceivable there has been a 7-10 point shift in NY and NJ toward Bush - a shift, by the way, which could move even further based on his strong support of Israel in recent days. If this is the truly the case, New York would probably still be out of reach but New Jersey could possibly be in play this November. That would be terrible news for Kerry.

Personally, I'm not convinced this is the case. Right now, the idea of a 9/11 effect in New Jersey remains nothing more than wild speculation and we really can't begin to draw any serious conclusions until we start getting more data. The good news is that Scott Rasmussen is on the case and will be polling in New Jersey next week. Stay tuned. - T. Bevan 3:25 pm Link | Email | Send to a Friend
UPDATE: Jim Miller is making the case that Bush's gains in NJ and the rest of the Northeast are real.

POLLS FOR THOUGHT: People have asked for our thoughts on the latest NJ poll showing Bush up 4 points on Kerry among registered voters. Frankly, given that almost all the other state polls we've seen are very much in line with the results from 2000, this one is stunning. Until something else comes along I'd work under the assumption the Fairleigh-Dickinson poll is an outlier.

Here are some more Senate polls for your entertainment:

FL Senate: McCollum 42% Castor 41%, Castor 43% Martinez 40%

SC Senate: Beasley 48% Tenenbaum 33%

CO Senate: Salazar 47% Coors 41%, Salazar 49% Schaffer 37%

We'll have more results as they become available.

THE BLAME GAME PART II: I see yesterday's post attracted a bit of attention over at Kevin Drum's new home - including a bunch of comments from Kevin's readers suggesting I'm pretty much a brown shirt for questioning their patriotism. Let me respond quickly.

In the four years we've been running this site neither John nor I have ever said that disagreeing with or criticizing the President means you aren't patriotic. In fact, those of you who are regular visitors to the site know that we post a variety of opinions every day, some of which are extremely critical of the President in one way or another.

Partisanship is a fact of life and touches every single issue in American political discourse. National security is certainly a one of those issues. But national security has also always been acknowledged by both sides to have a unique place and status in our government and the political arena.

To the extent possible, our leaders have tried to insulate certain aspects of the national security debate from partisanship. It's the reason the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate are always evenly divided no matter who is in control.

In my opinion, a commission whose sole purpose is to identify and correct flaws within the structure of our government to help strengthen the national security of the United States should be protected from being exploited by partisans on both sides.

That is certainly not what has happened. The 9/11 Commission has turned into exactly what critics said it would be: a show trial. The way the Commission has been conducted - in public, with members from both sides grandstanding and every witness on the defensive - it is functioning more as a source for election year media fodder than a meaningful, fact-finding mission.

It's the reason President Bush initially resisted appointing the Commission smack dab in the middle of election season - in addition to the fact that we already have a number of investigations going on in Congress trying to sort out what went wrong leading up to 9/11.

What bothers me is that I don't see the left recognizing even the slightest deference or distinction between the "patriotic" duty of the Commission and the "'partisan" opportunity to try and pin the blame for 9/11 on the Bush administration.

In many ways I think the left's absolute hatred of George W. Bush has made them conflate the ends and means here. When someone like Matt Yglesias says he has a patriotic interest making "changes for the better," in his mind getting rid of George W. Bush in November is the best possible change that can be made for the country.

Thus the 9/11 Commission is viewed by many on the left, first and foremost, as an opportunity to advance the goal of getting rid of Bush (which they see as a noble patriotic cause) rather than a chance for investigators to provide a sober assessment of what went wrong and how we can fix it.

CAN'T KEEP UP: This story makes an interesting post script to yesterday's post as well.

THANK GOODNESS: I'll be able to hear Franken again today. I've missed him so.

IMAGINE: If George W. Bush had repeatedly misstated the name of the UN special envoy in Iraq:

But for the second day in a row, Kerry, who prides himself on his expertise in foreign policy, repeatedly misnamed the U.N. special representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, who is helping to negotiate the terms of the transfer of power to the Iraqis on June 30. Kerry referred to him as "Brandini."

"What you're seeing already is the administration is essentially trying to implement my strategy without admitting they're implementing my strategy," he said. "They've got Brandini over there, and he's negotiating. They've basically turned over the decision of what they're going to turn over the government to, to Brandini -- whatever he creates. . . . And they're desperately trying to avoid a visible public transfer of authority to the U.N., because that would be an admission of failure in the way they've approached it."

Letterman. Leno. The left would be rolling in the aisles. - T. Bevan 9:32 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Thursday, April 15 2004
We were treated to another round of Bush-bashing yesterday based on this Dana Priest article in the Washington Post. Of course, all the critics ignored the truly operative paragraphs:

The government moved on several fronts to counter the threats. The CIA launched "disruption operations" in 20 countries. Tenet met or phoned 20 foreign intelligence officials. Units of the 5th Fleet were redeployed. Embassies went on alert. Cheney called Crown Prince Adbullah of Saudi Arabia to ask for help. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice asked the CIA to brief Attorney General John D. Ashcroft about an "imminent" terrorist attack whose location was unknown.

"The system was blinking red," Tenet told the commission in private testimony, the panel's report noted.

In other words, the government functioned properly in responding to the threat information in its possession. Obviously, we now know there were many flaws in the system, not the least of which is that we had no idea where or when the strike would occur.

That won't stop the left from continuing its subversive efforts to blame Bush for 9/11. They just can't help themselves.

Jonah Goldberg says that as long as we're forced to play the blame game, we might as well lay it where it belongs: Bill Clinton.

In addition to Goldberg's points about the Clinton administration (as well as the many, many others floating around out there) we could also add this interesting tidbit from Director of the NSA Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden's 2002 testimony before the joint session of the House & Senate Intelligence committee.

NSA downsized about one-third of its manpower and about the same proportion of its budget in the decade of the 1990s. That is the same decade whenpacketized communications (the e-communications we have all become familiar with) surpassed traditional communications. Thatis the same decade when mobile cell phones increased from 16million to 741 million—an increase of nearly 50 times. That is thesame decade when Internet users went from about 4 million to 361million—an increase of over 90 times. Half as many landlines werelaid in the last six years of the 1990s as in the whole previous historyof the world. In that same decade of the 1990s, internationaltelephone traffic went from 38 billion minutes to over 100 billion. Thisyear, the world’s population will spend over 180 billion minutes onthe phone in international calls alone.

By the end of the 1990s—with a budget that was fixed or falling anddemands from our customers that were unrelenting—we attemptedto churn about $200 million per year in our program. This meanttaking money away from current, still active, still producing activitiesand investing those dollars in future capabilities. $200 million peryear was far short of what we needed and, in fact, I could makeonly about one-third of that number stick as our program wentthrough the Executive Branch and the Congress.

If I were as serious about playing the blame game as liberals are today, then I'd ignore the fact that a Republican Congress played a contributing role in the downsizing of the NSA. Furthermore, I'd also frame Director Hayden's testimony using Josh Marshall's formulation from earlier in the week:

Even though the NSA's budget and manpower were drastically reduced during the 8 years of the Clinton administration, 9/11 probably couldn't have been prevented. But we'll never know.

We could go on and on. How that would help prepare the country against future attacks is beyond me.

It doesn't seem to matter. Matthew Yglesias writes in a spasm of honesty:

One of the difficulties I think a lot of people on the right have in grasping what's going on at the 9/11 Commission is that Bill Clinton isn't running for president. I have no interest -- not even a partisan interest -- in denying that Clinton and his appointees messed up in a variety of ways. Not even a partisan interest, let me say again, because Bill Clinton isn't running for president. My interest as a patriotic American is purely in bringing the facts to light so we can make changes for the better. My partisan interest is, especially, in bringing to light facts that reflect poorly on George W. Bush and his appointees -- the various ways in which they disimproved on the inadequate Clinton-era set-up.

There's an obvious problem here that begs a question for Matt: when your interest as a patriot (making changes for the better) and your interest as a partisan (making Bush look bad) conflict, which interest do you put first?

The 9/11 Commission should generate exactly such a conflict among liberals because the more partisan the Commission becomes, the less likely they are to find the truth and the less likely the Commission's final report will have legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

Sadly, however, many on the left don't seem able to either recognize the conflict in the first place or resist the temptation of putting partisanship above patriotism. - T. Bevan 8:12 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Wednesday, April 14 2004
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the President an 8.5 for his press conference last night. The press is going to get bogged down in how he didn't really say anything new, or how he didn't apologize, or how he didn't admit any mistakes, but Bush did what Bush does best: he provided vision and leadership.

I have no doubt that the President's critics will howl even louder after his performance, but the average American won't get lost in all the nonsense over apologies, and will instead be comforted by the President's resolve, determination and leadership.

APOLOGY FOR WHAT?: I find the whole issue of whether the President should apologize infuriating. It is driven by a liberal hatred for this President and the "Oprahfied" culture we live in today. If Bush did something wrong or was negligent - and was therefore complicit in allowing the attack on 9/11 to unfold - his critics need to stop parsing words and come out and say the President is at fault for not preventing 9/11. Otherwise the President has no reason to apologize You can't have it both ways.

Articles like this one from Marianne Means ("Unlike Bush, JFK took responsibility for disaster while he was president") are designed to feed the impression that President Bush is partially to blame for allowing 9/11 to occur and refuses to accept responsibility for his mistakes.

E. J. Dionne Jr. spells out the attack very clearly in yesterday's Washington Post :

[BUSH]"We stand for a culture of responsibility in America. We're changing the culture of this country from one that has said, if it feels good, do it, and if you got a problem, blame somebody else, to a culture in which each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life." Maybe President Bush should reread his own words, offered last week at a fundraiser in Charlotte. ....To take responsibility straightforwardly would be a sign of strength, not weakness. Instead, the president is sticking to a strategy of denial.

Denial of what? Accept responsibility for what? Hindsight and monday-morning quarterbacking are powerful allies of all those looking to blame someone for what happened on September 11, 2001. But the American people have enough common sense to understand that while there are a myriad of things the U.S. government should have been doing better and/or differently in the 1990's and the first eight months of the Bush White House, neither President Bush nor President Clinton are responsible for what happened on 9/11.

President Bush gave a good answer to what must have been the third question on whether he will apologize:

Look, I can understand why people in my administration anguished over the fact that people lost their life. I feel the same way. I mean, I'm sick when I think about the death that took place on that day. And as I mentioned, I've met with a lot of family members and I do the best I do to console them about the loss of their loved one. As I mentioned, I oftentimes think about what I could have done differently. I can assure the American people that had we had any inkling that this was going to happen, we would have done everything in our power to stop the attack.

Here's what I feel about that. The person responsible for the attacks was Osama bin Laden. That's who's responsible for killing Americans. And that's why we will stay on the offense until we bring people to justice.

The American people understand that simple fact, and I suspect they will grow to resent the sly attempt of the left to try and suggest that President Bush is partially responsible for the worst attack on this country since Pearl Harbor.

BAY OF PIGS AND 9/11: To go back to the Marianne Means' article I referenced earlier, Mark Shields has made the same comparison to JFK and the Bay of Pigs, trying to use it as a historical wedge to attack President Bush for not apologizing or admitting mistakes. The problem is the historical analogy makes no sense.

Without getting into all the nitty gritty over the Eisenhower administration's planning of the operation, President Kennedy OK'd the Bay of Pigs and took responsibility when it failed. That's all well and good, but how that has anything to do with the U.S. being attacked on 9/11, I don't know.

The more accurate historical analogy is Pearl Harbor, and to my knowledge I don't know that President Roosevelt ever "apologized" for Pearl Harbor.

Americans in 1944 weren't wringing their hands over whether Roosevelt should apologize, they were out killing the Japanese and Germans. And we would be better off, too, if we spent less time on all the apology psychobabble and more time attacking and killing the Islamic fundamentalist enemy that was the true perpetrator of 9/11.

KERRY'S INDEX IS A MISERABLE FAILURE: Reading Tom's post on the Kerry campaign's new invention to turn the economy into a modern day Great Depression, I was momentarily confused at Kerry's new misery index.

Why the Kerry campaign would try to sell the American people on an index that suggests the best time between 1976 and 1996 were those glorious Carter years around 1978-1979, I will never know. I guess all those middle-class Americans who had it so great during the Carter years were so happy they forgot to vote in 1980. - J. McIntyre 8:00am | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, April 13 2004
John wrote a good post over the weekend on polls and the predictive value of Presidential job approval ratings. I was cleaning out a file of articles today and came across another statistic worthy of mention.

This is from a January 20 Detroit Free-Press story by Jeffrey McCracken. (The link is now in a pay archive):

The recent Blue Chip Economic Indicators survey of 45 corporate economists, projected 4.5-percent growth in the U.S. gross domestic product in 2004, which would be the best since 1984.

"History shows if the GDP is 3.5 percent or higher, the incumbent president wins," said Van Jolissant, chief economist for the Chrysler Group. "If most economists are accurate, then Democrats need some issue other than jobs. Contrary to 1992, I don't think it will be the economy, stupid."

In case you missed it, last month the BCEI poll revised the 2004 GDP forecast upward to 4.7% from 4.5%. Just some more food for thought.

MIDDLE CLASS MISERY INDEX UPDATE: I've gotten a few emails from people asking if they are reading the Kerry chart right, since it looks as if the MMIC skyrocketed under Clinton and then began easing up under Bush. If you look at the last line of the definition listed in the post below, however, you see a parenthetic note that reads: " unlike the original Misery Index, a higher index indicates that people are better off."

This obviously begs the question: how stupid are the Kerry people to put together a chart based on an exceedingly complex (some might even venture to use the word misleading) formula to demonstrate how terrible President Bush's economic policies are and then to present the data in a visual format that intuitively leads people to the exact opposite conclusion?

Somebody get Ross Perot on the phone to get this chart thing straightened out.

Here's another point, newly arrived in my inbox from longtime reader John K. How valid can the Kerry Middle-Class Misery Index be when it shows that the second highest point for the middle class (remember, that's a good thing on this chart!) in the last 28 years occurring under the Carter administration in the late 1970's?

Hocus pocus. Sperling snake oil. Call it what you want, the Kerry MMIC is a transparent political gimmick, nothing more. - T. Bevan 3:25 pm | Link | Email | Send to a Friend
Easterbrook has the goods.

DUELING MISERY INDICES: Here is John Kerry's vaunted "Middle-Class Misery Index", released yesterday:

Now look at the "Misery Index" released by the Joint Economic Committee today:

So why do these charts look so completely different?

The JEC index uses the traditional definition of the "misery index" which is the sum of the inflation rate and the unemployment rate.

John Kerry's version is a little, er, more complicated:

The Middle-class Misery Index is based on median family income, college tuition, health costs, gasoline cost, bankruptcies, the homeownership rate, and private-sector job growth. All seven of these series enter the index with equal weights. (Note, unlike the original Misery Index, a higher index indicates that people are better off.)

You know the saying: if you torture numbers long enough you can make them say anything. - T. Bevan 12:05 pm | Link | Email | Send to a Friend
UPDATE: has more

THE CORRECTION: I posted a correction to this morning's entry (see here) because I misread Josh's post. No excuse for that.

Rereading his post, however, I think one of the things that led me to my erroneous conclusion were the two paragraphs that followed the quote I clipped which suggest the White House didn't do everything within its power to prevent September 11.

The last two sentences in particular really raised my hackles:

9/11 probably couldn't have been prevented at that late a date. But we'll never know.

The use of "probably" and "we'll never know" are designed to leave just enough doubt to imply that, in fact, there was a chance 9/11 could have been prevented if only the White House had acted.

But the "if we'd only done 'x' then we possibly could have prevented 'y' game" is an unreasonable standard to apply to any person or agency in hindsight - even if you're willing to apply it equally to all parties, which Josh and other liberals certainly are not. - T. Bevan 11:35 am | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Surprise, when it happens to a government, is likely to be a complicated, diffuse, bureaucratic thing. It includes neglect of responsibility but also responsibility so poorly defined or so ambiguously delegated that action gets lost. It includes gaps in intelligence, but also intelligence that, like a string of pearls too precious to wear, is too sensitive to give to those who need it. It includes the alarm that fails to work, but also the alarm that has gone off so often it has been disconnected. It includes the unalert watchman, but also the one who knows he'll be chewed out by his superior if he gets higher authority out of bed. It includes the contingencies that occur to no one, but also those that everyone assumes somebody else is taking care of. It includes straightforward procrastination, but also decisions protracted by internal disagreement. It includes, in addition, the inability of individual human beings to rise to the occasion until they are sure it is the occasion-- which is usually too late. (Unlike movies, real life provides no musical background to tip us off to the climax.)Finally, as at Pearl Harbor, surprise may include some measure of genuine novelty introduced by the enemy, and possibly some sheer bad luck.

The results, at Pearl Harbor, were sudden, concentrated, and dramatic. The failure, however, was cumulative, widespread, and rather drearily familiar. This is why surprise, when it happens to a government, cannot be described just in terms of startled people. Whether at Pearl Harbor or at the Berlin Wall, surprise is everything involved in a government's (or in an alliance's) failure to anticipate effectively." - Thomas C. Schelling, Forward to Pearl Harbor; Warning and Decision, by Roberta Wohlstetter.

RESPONSIBILITIES FOR ALL: I thought the above quote was apropos for today's blog. John Ashcroft is going to get it good this morning, no question about it.

The others scheduled to appear before the 9/11 Commission today and tomorrow - including former AG Janet Reno, current FBI Director Robert Mueller and former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, former FBI acting director Thomas Pickard and CIA Director George Tenet - will take their lumps as well.

On one hand, as current and former leaders of their respective organizations they should face tough questions about any shortcomings that occurred prior to September 11.

On the other hand, it's extremely unfair to single out any individual and try to lay additional blame or responsibility for 9/11 at their feet - especially John Ashcroft.

The hypocrisy of liberals surrounding the September 11 Commission is just astounding. John Ashcroft has been vilified on an almost daily basis since 9/11 for being too aggressive in pursuing terrorists domestically and now he's going to be vilified for being too passive in the days before the tragedy. I've had my disagreements with Ashcroft and been critical of him on a number of issues, but this just isn't an area where it's fair to rake him over the coals.

Same thing with the way the left and those in the press are treating the August 6 PDB. It is preposterous to assume that based on a one and half page addendum reiterating the outlines of a threat everyone in all levels of government already knew that the President should have rushed back from Crawford to the Situation Room at the White House to huddle with Dick Clarke. Bush was meeting with the Director of Central Intelligence every single day, for God's sake.

Nevertheless, Bush-haters want to portray this as a personal failure of responsibility on the President's part for no other reason than to damage him politically. Our friend Josh Marshall writes:

Clearly no one is saying that if the president got a warning at that late date that he should necessarily should have been able to roll up the plot. I don't think anyone expects him to have. But what's damning about this isn't that he didn't prevent what happened.

This is slick, circular and completely disingenuous. Notice that we're no longer talking about the responsibility of "the government" (you know, the thousands of people across hundreds of different departments and agencies related to the events of September 11) we're now talking about "he" - as in the personal responsibility of George W. Bush. Furthermore, if you're willing to say it's "damning" that "he didn't prevent what happened," then clearly you ARE saying that Bush "should have been able to roll up the plot."
(UPDATE: I've got to post a quick apology to Josh for this because I misread his post. He said it "isn't" damning, though I read it as though he said it "is" damning. I stand by my broader point that Josh is working to place personal responsibility on Bush for the larger, systemic governmental failures of 9/11 - which I think is partisan and unfair - but the quote above certainly isn't of the "slick, circular, and disingenous" variety that I misread it to be. Sorry. -T. Bevan 11:02 am)

There are two indisputable truths we should all be able to recognize and agree upon regarding the Commission investigating 9/11. The first is that our government failed in ways big and small - not just for months but for decades - to adequately address and respond to the growing threat of terrorism. The lineage of our country's lack of focus on the problem is long and we can play the blame game ad infinitum to try and damage or defend President Bush without ever escaping this fact.

The second truth we have learned is that September 11 is the fulcrum of our times. It's the point on which history turned, the point that shattered all previous assumptions about how we think, how we act, and who and where our real enemies are.

September 11 is now also the filter which many of us use to judge our leaders and their actions. The question before us is not how our leaders acted before 9/11 but how they have acted after - and how they will act in the future. - T. Bevan 9:55 am | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday, April 12 2004
On the heels of yesterday's story talking up the Dems chances in Senate races this year, Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe files a nice hand-holding-cumbaya story this morning, "Kerry Riding a Wave of Democratic Unity."

According to Johnson, it's all tulips and roses: Kerry raised $38 million last quarter, he has mobs of volunteers banging down the doors, and he's also got the coordinated backing of new liberal think tanks and interest groups.

Much of this is true, of course, even if Johnson does fail to acknowledge that the Bush campaign dwarfs the Kerry campaign in almost every conceivable category, including number of donors and volunteers. Still, Johnson's article should be a wake up call to any apathetic conservatives out there.

The interesting dynamic of the Kerry campaign is that all the support he's receiving has virtually nothing to do with him as a person or a leader - it's all driven by a hatred for George Bush. Johnson writes:

Even if Kerry were not the nominee-apparent of the party, Democrats would almost certainly be out in force because of their opposition to Bush's policies and concern over the direction of the country.

Kerry emerged as the nominee of the party precisely because he was the emptiest vessel in the bunch, and the one who was most able (not to mention most willing) to package all of the base's Bush hatred in the best possible way (in other words, the most electable way) to the public.

The result is a bizarre disconnect of Kerry trying to present the image of having an "optimistic vision for America" while he crosses the country whipping his supporters into a frenzy with the hard-core Bush-bashing rhetoric party activists demand.

Johnson says that at events with supporters Kerry "tries to incite the crowd, predicting a grim future if Bush is reelected, especially if the incumbent is allowed to shift the balance of the Supreme Court through appointments anticipated in the coming years."

In normal times, Presidential candidates can only get so far running such a narrowly focused negative campaign. But these are not normal times, and John Kerry is not a normal Presidential candidate.

VEEP NOTES: John McCain? Jim Hunt? Dick Durbin? Kathleen Sebelius? The rumor mill continues to churn out name after name, regardless of how farfetched they might seem - T. Bevan 4:00 pm | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

TIME WARP: Hard to believe I've only been gone a week. Let's recap what the Democrats have been up to since I left for vacation last Saturday:

1) Ted Kennedy called Iraq "George Bush's Vietnam"
2) Bob Byrd called for an all out retreat from Iraq
3) Richard Ben-Veniste made himself look like a complete horse's ass questioning Condi Rice and dispelled any doubts the 9/11 Commission is operating on a "nonpartisan" basis
4) Chris Dodd said on the floor of the Senate that former KKK member Bob Byrd was a "great Senator" and "right for any time" in our nation's history. So far as I can tell from searching Google, there hasn't been any media reaction whatsoever to this outrageously insensitive and offensive remark.

That's an awful lot of stupidity packed into eight days - even by Democrats' standards. I think there might be a pattern developing here, especially with Ted Kennedy. Just look at what he said last time I went on vacation.

SWONK'S REPORT: Bank One's Chief Economist says more jobs are most likely on the way. That's the good news for the President.

But here's some news that sounds a bit more concerning:

In the Great Lakes region, the industrial heartland remains a laggard in employment with more jobs still being lost than created at the start of the year.

On net, job creation in the region is expected to pick up with Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin doing significantly better than Michigan and Ohio.

The latest polls have Bush trailing by 10 points in Michigan and leading by 2 points in Ohio and 6 points in Wisconsin.

Obviously, Ohio is shaping up to be the most critical battleground state in the country this year. Given how poor the state's economy has been over the last three years it's astonishing that Bush is still maintaining any lead at all in the Buckeye State.

From that perspective, Swonk's report is terrible news for Kerry because even the most meager improvements in the job situation in Ohio should help the President expand his slim lead.

Back later with more. - T. Bevan 11:03 am | Link | Email | Send to a Friend


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