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Bad Economies in the 2008 Battleground States

- December 31, 2008

Over at the Patchwork Nation blog, Jim Gimpel notes:

bq. First, by November, foreclosure numbers were considerably higher in battleground states. Even though foreclosures were concentrated in the most urban parts of these states, the political battlegrounds overall had accumulated nearly twice as many foreclosures as those that were not (1.7 million compared with 869,000). And the foreclosure rate (accumulated foreclosures per 1,000 households) ran more than twice as high in the battleground states as in the nonbattlegrounds (29.2 to 12.9). Without question, then, battleground states fared considerably worse in terms of the housing crisis than safe states did – even when California’s sky-high foreclosure figures are included in the mix of safe states…

bq. …The unemployment rate, it turns out, was about one percentage point higher in October in the battleground states (6.7 percent) than in the nonbattlegrounds (5.6 percent). Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, unemployment remained persistently high throughout the year in the hard-fought states, whereas the safe states saw a creeping increase from July to October. By Election Day, the battleground states had recorded 340,000 more jobless claims than the nonbattleground states. This is in spite of the fact that collectively, the battleground states contain considerably fewer voters and 12 percent less people.

bq. For the record, all these battleground states, except Missouri, went for Mr. Obama.

We know that the state of the national economy affects election outcomes, but could variation in state economies have mattered in 2008? Or, as Jim speculates, were the battleground states in fact battlegrounds because of their weak economies?