Hillary Clinton's Chances Of Winning Could Be Significantly Impacted By One Simple Economic Fact

The government released unemployment statistics on Friday, and they contain an interesting tidbit. In nine out of 13 swing states, the unemployment rate is below the national average, and this economic fact is great news for Hillary Clinton. Economic performance often plays a big role in determining the outcome of presidential elections — what's more, she's intentionally aligned herself with the man most widely associated with this economy: President Barack Obama.

The national unemployment rate has been hovering around 5 percent since January; that's roughly where it stood just before the 2009 economic collapse, and is easily within the range that economists think of as a healthy level of unemployment. This itself would be a promising development for Clinton, but state-by-state data gives her even more reason to be optimistic.

In nine states that could conceivably be considered swing states, the unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Those states are Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, North Carolina, Florida, and Utah.

This roughly corresponds with the polling data: In most of these states, Clinton has a strong lead. The exceptions to this are Ohio and Iowa, where she has very small leads, and Utah, where the polling has been neck-and-neck but which Trump is still favored to win.

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This matters because historically, there's a strong relationship between unemployment and the outcome of presidential elections. To oversimplify a bit, the incumbent party usually loses when unemployment is high or rising and wins when it's low or falling. The relatively strong economic performance in these swing states should therefore be a boon to Clinton's chances.

It should be noted that there's no consensus on what counts as a "swing state." It's a designation that changes with every election and is ultimately a matter of opinion. The prospect of Utah being a swing state, for example, sounds silly given that it hasn't been won by a Democratic presidential candidate since 1968. But a unique confluence of factors have, improbably, put the state in play this year. On the other end of the spectrum is Pennsylvania. It's commonly thought of as a swing state, but Clinton has been polling well ahead of Trump in the state for the entire year, and besides, it hasn't voted for a Republican since 1988.

For the curious, here are the state-by-state unemployment rates as provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

  • Virginia - 4.0 percent
  • Wisconsin - 4.1 percent
  • Iowa - 4.2 percent
  • Utah - 3.4 percent
  • Ohio - 4.8 percent
  • New Hampshire - 2.9 percent
  • Colorado - 3.6 percent
  • North Carolina - 4.7 percent
  • Florida - 4.7 percent
  • Pennsylvania - 5.7 percent
  • Nevada - 5.8 percent
  • Georgia - 5.1 percent
  • Arizona - 5.5 percent

To be sure, Clinton already has a lot of things working in her favor in this election, most notably Trump's own ineptness. Still, given her close association with Obama and the Democratic party, it doesn't hurt that jobs are relatively plentiful in swing states.