The October Surprise
Looks like we just got the October Surprise. The unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent. It’s down to 7.8.
Normally, that number would be considered terrible news for any incumbent seeking re-election. But compared to 10, 9, or 8 percent … anything starting with a 7 looks good by comparison, especially this close to Election Day.
So, in this cynical age in which we live, the new number raises a question: Is it real or was it rigged by Mr. Obama’s henchmen to take the stench off of his debate performance? No less a giant in the world of business – and a widely respected one at that -- than former GE CEO Jack Welch tweeted this:
“Unbelievable job numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.”
Yes, Welch supports Mitt Romney and is no fan of Barack Obama, but still … this isn’t some right-wing screwball roaming the dark corners of the Internet. This is JACK WELCH.
So let’s take a look at the numbers:
Without sinking too deep in the weeds, there are two ways to measure employment and unemployment – the Household Survey and the Establishment Survey.
Total employment as measured by the Household Survey rose by 873,000 in September, the biggest jump since June 1983. But the Establishment survey rose by only 114,000 in September.
So if you’re selling old toasters and combs on eBay because you haven’t been able to find a real job for the past year and a half … you’re considered employed.
That doesn’t mean Jack Welch is right, that the numbers were rigged, but it does mean unemployment is a lot worse than the 7.8 number indicates.
But don’t expect too much nuance – or honesty – from President Obama’s most loyal supporters … so-called mainstream journalists. They will do PR for him and put the most favorable Obama spin on the new number. I won't be shocked if I see a headline that screams "Economy Roars, Recovery Arrives, Just in Time for the Election"
As for Team Obama, they have already embarked on their post-debate strategy. One day after the debacle in Denver, Mr. Obama’s political hit man David Axelrod summoned reporters to a conference call and said Romney is a liar who will say anything to get elected. That was supposed to explain why Romney came off as the winner. It’s not that Romney performed better, or that he had better arguments, or that President Obama’s answer to every question was more government. No, Romney was a liar. That's why it looked like he did well.
Yes, it’s pathetic. But reporters will be fact-checking every syllable Romney utters from here on out to confirm that he is indeed a liar. If Romney tells supporters, “I’m glad to be here with you in Ohio today,” the press corps will investigate.
But I suspect we only witnessed the first October Surprise. The other one, I think, will be coming very soon. It will be a drone that hits the terrorists who killed our ambassador and three others in Libya. I’m all for drones that kill terrorists. But when Axelrod said Mitt Romney will do anything to get elected, this was a psychological slip. He was really talking about Barack Obama.