I knew George H. W. Bush would lose his bid for re-election on July 3, 1992 (never mind that he was leading in the polls at the time).
How did I know, you ask? Because those were the days of the release of the June unemployment numbers for that year.
Back then, every political candidate, consultant, activist, and junkie knew about the “unemployment rule.” Since 1948, if unemployment fell in the second quarter of an election year (between March and June), the incumbent party was going to win. If it stayed the same or rose, the incumbent party was going to lose. The lone exception all but proved the rule (Dwight Eisenhower’s re-election in 1956). There were two elections where unemployment was the same in June as it had been in March: 1968 and 1976. The incumbent party lost both times.
Since the 1990s, the rule has fallen out of favor and even knowledge . . . and yet it still holds. Unemployment fell from March to June of 1996, and President Clinton was re-elected. It stayed even between March and June 2000, and the Democrats lost. It fell from March to June of 2004, and President Bush the Younger was re-elected. It rose from March to June of 2008, and the Republicans lost.
So once again, in every presidential vote since World War II save for Ike’s re-election (and in every single presidential election for the last 52 years), if unemployment falls, the incumbent party wins. If it doesn’t, the incumbent party loses.
Unemployment in March of this year was 8.2%.
Unemployment in June of this year was 8.2%.
Mitt Romney will win.
You heard it here first.
Cross-posted to Bearing Drift