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2012: the economy will swing it | Mark Weisbrot | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk: "By now, it is clear to most analysts of the United States' midterm election that the economy played a huge role in the Democrats' losses. It is also pretty clear that the vote was a protest vote by people reacting to economic troubles, rather than an attitudinal change in the electorate towards a conservative political agenda.
This can be seen from both pre-election polling data and exit polling. For example, 58% of voters said that they were 'trying to send a message about how dissatisfied they are with things in Washington'. But voters were more likely to agree with Democratic positions on social security, trade policy and other issues. This despite the fact that an 'enthusiasm gap' lowered Democratic turnout. As comedian Jon Stewart prodded Obama in his recent interview on the Daily Show: how did we go from 'hope and change' to 'please, baby, one more chance?'
But with such a volatile electorate, it is worth examining the outcome in more depth. Political scientist Douglas Hibbs has watched midterm congressional elections in the US since 1950, and found that 92% of the variance can be explained by just four factors"