Things That Matter in Politics.

Not to sound too curmudgeonly, but while yesterday's primaries in Connecticut, Colorado, and Georgia were interesting as pieces of political theater, on the main they don't actually tell us anything about the elections ahead of us. The political world will spend today obsessing over what those elections "meant," but when it comes down to it, you can't divine broader trends from a handful of contests in a few unrepresentative states. So, for example, Sen. Michael Bennet's win last night in Colorado doesn't actually say anything about the mood of this year's average voter, despite what The New York Times might try to tell you.

The boring and unsexy truth is that there isn't much of a "narrative" to this year's elections; voters aren't revolting against President Obama's "overreach" -- he remains by far one of the most popular politicians in the country -- and they aren't rushing to banish incumbents for the crime of having job experience (otherwise, federal incumbents wouldn't have a 98 percent re-election rate so far). By and large, voter anger is best explained by this graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:


With unemployment at close to an unprecedented high, and long-term unemployment even worse, voters are angry with the governing party and want change for the sake of change. Yes, local issues are at play in most of this year's elections, but by and large, that's it. High unemployment has primed voters to want change, and whether voters actually act on this desire has more to do with the next three months of job growth than it does with any particular strategy by any particular politician.

-- Jamelle Bouie

You may also like