Ever since James Carville made famous in 1992 the political rallying cry, "It's the economy, stupid," everyone knows that the economy determines election outcomes and people vote their pocketbooks.
President Obama, however, will lose 5 to 8 of the 10 states (North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Virginia) with the lowest unemployment rates, all of which have rates below 6%. Of those 10, the President is guaranteed to win only Minnesota and Vermont, with New Hampshire, Iowa, and Virginia among the 8 remaining battleground states.
Moreover, he will surely lose the three states with the lowest rates--North Dakota (3%), Nebraska (4%), and South Dakota (4.5%)--as well as Oklahoma, and Utah. So much for being rewarded for good economic times.
Yet, the President is favored to win the 3 states (Nevada, Rhode Island, and California) with the highest rates, all of which have rates above 10%. So much for being punished for bad economic times.
Carville's message to the Clinton campaign reflected his understanding that many things--demography, culture, and quality of candidates and campaigns--shape election outcomes as much as or more than the economy. Indeed, he insisted that a laser focus must be put on the economy, if more voters are to be persuaded to actually vote their pocketbooks.