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The Most Important Number in Politics Today

3.5

That's the percentage that America's gross domestic product rose between July and September, its largest quarterly increase in two years and a sign, according to economists, that the recession is likely over.

In the first quarter of 2009, the GDP, which is regarded as a broad but important measure of economic activity, dropped more than six percent; in the second quarter it experienced a less than one percent decline. (Here's an explanation of what GDP is and how it's calculated.)

The rapid turnaround is being credited to government spending via the Obama Administration's economic stimulus package, the "cash for clunkers" program and first-time home buying incentives.

The White House is already working to use these numbers to its political advantage, running out its top economic voices -- Christina Romer, Jared Bernstein, Austan Goolsbee, Larry Summers -- on the cable networks today to make sure the average American is aware of what the Administration has been doing to turn the economy around.

The GDP numbers land amid a series of recent polling that shows that not only does the economy continue to be the dominant issue on the public's mind abut opinions on how Obama is handling it continues to teeter between satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

In the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 47 percent of people approved of Obama's handling of health care while 46 percent disapproved -- down from a slightly more robust 50 percent approve/42 percent disapprove in September. And, that same poll, shows that 36 percent of the public believes the government has not done enough to revive the economy while 30 percent say it has done too much and 27 percent say the Administration has done the right amount.

That indecision on the part of the American people makes for an interesting political conundrum.

The White House -- and congressional Democrats -- have to hope that measures like the GDP continue to improve in advance of 2010, a long enough lead time for the American public to become aware of them before heading to the polls next November.

On the other hand, it's not clear whether more abstract measures like GDP will sink in with the American public if the recovery continues to be a (mostly) jobless one. In September, the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent -- the highest its been since 1983 -- and there seems to be consensus that it will get worse before it gets better.

Which measure will voters respond to? Neither? Both? The answer is critical when you consider the large numbers of people who cite the economy as, by far, the most important issue facing the country and will almost certainly be a top-of-the-mind issue for voters in next November's midterm elections.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 29, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Most Important Number  
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Comments

Posted by: snowbama:
Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman has a clear shot to win next week’s New York special election and is within one point of the lead, according to the latest Daily Kos poll out today.
---
Polls only reflect a time frame period of preference based on the question being asked.
Another thing Hoffman does not live in the district and admitted he knows nothing of the issues being raised in the area even after being "help" by Armey himself. He is being supported by outside groups such as Club for Growth who has vested interest in making sure he wins even though they are running two ads one in support of Hoffman and another stealth ad which give nice picture of Scozzafava which really in favor of Hoffman. Until the election is over, you will have to sit and wait.

Posted by: beeker25 | October 30, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

scrivener50, it is probably because you have posted the same screed everyday for the past month, at least and probably longer. You were probably blocked to save the bandwidth for something that does not require the wearing of a tin foil hat to believe.

Posted by: NHEngineer | October 30, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Most of the people on this blog--or, for that matter most of the mainstream media and most voters--have no idea what they are talking about when they blather on about the economy. The conventional narrative right now is that this is a jobless recovery. That is utter nonsense! We won't have a clear picture of the economy until next year because employment numbers are a lagging indicator.

What underlies all of this is consumer confidence. Consumer confidence took a dip in Septemeber. More than anyother indicator, this number flies in the face of the entire conservative ideological argument regarding the workings of the economy. It tells us that consumerism--demand--is the bedrock of the economy, not supply.

This is important for people to understand. Until they man up themselves and start acting a bit more positive and stop giving in to all of this negativism they hear in the media, nothing is going to improve. The 3.5% number will help. But the media dwelling on the past quarter or the month before the last, as they are doing this morning by regurgitating a consumer confidence number we already had reported to us earlier in the month, does not help.

This economy runs on the confidence of the people in their system. If you let the Glenn Becks and the Rush Limbaughs and the corporations and the Wall Street Journals do your thinking for you, then all will be lost. It is important for Americans to stand up as they always have against the forces that will try their utmost to keep this economy down just to bring down this administration.

The truth is, they really don't care about you. It is time you woke up and stop listening to the crap they are peddling. Those jobs aren't coming back until we start climbing out of these little mudholes the Becks and Limbaughs are keeping us in.

Posted by: jaxas | October 30, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"The US govt didn't give out money to "the banks and wall st" in the 3rd quarter. If those companies gave out bonuses, it came out of their profits. Either one counts as GDP, yes."

Yes and no. Wall Street's investment bank "bonus" money is taken from revenue, not profit. This difference matters. If it were taken from profits, then one might try to make the case these people were not just disgusting parasites.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 30, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

In the area I live,the real estate market is crazy. With low interest rates and home prices,along with the credit of $8,000 to first time home buyers,there is not enough home on the market. Multiply offers are being consider on just one home. One had a least 35 offers. I think is just a matter of time that will see unemployment decrease. I believe trickle down economic do work. Our highway I 80 being funded by the stimulas money,which really needed repairs. When people buy home,they buy furniture,home appliances,window covering and floor covering and much more. I am sure our local Home-Depot is busy too. I just sold a $529.000 home where I live,which I going save the majority of money,but also to treat myself little and contribute to the economy,like going out for dinner or new buying clothes. If this give anyone hope that things a changing,I hope it helps. I tired being negitive,bitter and angry. I have no health insurance because we couldn't afford no more,but I cant't worry anymore. Finally after two years hardship there is light at the end of the tunnel and I thank god for every thing that God has blessed me.

Posted by: valjeanharden | October 30, 2009 3:54 AM | Report abuse

In the area I live,the real estate market is crazy. With low interest rates and home prices,along with the credit of $8,000 to first time home buyers,there is not enough home on the market. Multiply offers are being consider on just one home. One had a least 35 offers. I think is just a matter of time that will see unemployment decrease. I believe trickle down economic do work. Our highway I 80 being funded by the stimulas money,which really needed repairs. When people buy home,they buy furniture,home appliances,window covering and floor covering and much more. I am sure our local Home-Depot is busy too. I just sold a $529.000 home where I live,which I going save the majority of money,but also to treat myself little and contribute to the economy,like going out for dinner or new buying clothes. If this give anyone hope that things a changing,I hope it helps. I tired being negitive,bitter and angry. I have no health insurance because we couldn't afford no more,but I cant't worry anymore. Finally after two years hardship there is light at the end of the tunnel and I thank god for every thing that God has blessed me.

Posted by: valjeanharden | October 30, 2009 3:53 AM | Report abuse

In the area I live,the real estate market is crazy. With low interest rates and home prices,along with the credit of $8,000 to first time home buyers,there is not enough home on the market. Multiply offers are being consider on just one home. One had a least 35 offers. I think is just a matter of time that will see unemployment decrease. I believe trickle down economic do work. Our highway I 80 being funded by the stimulas money,which really needed repairs. When people buy home,they buy furniture,home appliances,window covering and floor covering and much more. I am sure our local Home-Depot is busy too. I just sold a $529.000 home where I live,which I going save the majority of money,but also to treat myself little and contribute to the economy,like going out for dinner or new buying clothes. If this give anyone hope that things a changing,I hope it helps. I tired being negitive,bitter and angry. I have no health insurance because we couldn't afford no more,but I cant't worry anymore. Finally after two years hardship there is light at the end of the tunnel and I thank god for every thing that God has blessed me.

Posted by: valjeanharden | October 30, 2009 3:53 AM | Report abuse

Premature in what sense? She didn't really ask for it?

Posted by: DDAWD | October 29, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the Palin 100k story may have been a bit premature, sorry folks.

Posted by: nodebris | October 29, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

"this is little comfort for the more than 10% of people who are unemployed. "

Employment typically trails the stock market. Stocks go down, a few months later unemployment goes up. Stocks go up, a few months later unemployment goes down. So there is a lot of comfort for the unemployed in these numbers.

Posted by: nodebris | October 29, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

I do hope that the Administration plays its good news in a bit of an understated way.

It has every right to point with pride, but should do so more empassent than en prize. If things keep going well, they will speak for themselves. sould job numbers even hint at getting better the disheartened workers returning to the job seeking numbers, thereby RAISING the unemployment figures will be the better news. So a surge in unemployment rates nation wide, not explained by layoffs or corporate failures will be the next sigh of strong economic recovery. So the next big jump in unemployment numbers may actually be good news.

Posted by: ceflynline | October 29, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

An entire day with only a single stooge sighting. There is hope for your blog cc

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Not only is JakeD posting, but there's a comment by 37th&O. I thought that poster had graduated and moved on.

The big question regarding #otD is what happens when stimulus funding slows. Return to growth or a double dip?

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 29, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

The recession may be over for most large corporations and wealthy investors, but this is little comfort for the more than 10% of people who are unemployed. Obama, if he seeks credit for the tepid recovery hardly affecting the masses yet, should also accept the blame for high unemployment projected to continue for at least several more years. Of course, though he will claim credit for any positive economic trends, while blaming Bush for persistent high unemployment, probably up to the next presidential election.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | October 29, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes Hall of Fame trolls' lunacy could not be contained by "the Fix," and they had to migrate to other Post polls, like "the Sleuth" to spread their Phalinite craziness.

From a September 2008 "sleuth," the Michelle LaVaughan-obsessed Dianne72:

"Picture it, Trinity Church 2006. Michelle Shiniqua Obama is speaking from the pulpit. Her prominent nostrils are flared, brow furrowed, and a scowl across her face. With all the inner-ghetto she can muster, Michelle Shaniqua is ranting against "whitey" and how they keep "raising the bar". All the while punching the air with a fist-bump. This my friends is what we will see in October when they release her "whitey-gate" tapes on YouTube.

I suspect the tenor of her speech will sound a little something like this:

[youtube link D72 put in here omitted]

Posted by: Dianne72 | September 8, 2008 6:21 PM"

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 29, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

@s50: re your attempt to reach Ms. Wolf, I was told to share with you the following:

"Return to sender, Address unknown. No such number. No such zone."

Sorry, s.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 29, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Other important numbers maybe?

0: the number of bogus birther lawsuits Oily Taitz has won (she just lost another one today).

7: a new poll out says 7 out of 10 Americans believe Phalin is totally unqualified to be President. Any chance Gregory Charles Royal is one of the 7?
_______

From Fix archives. Just before Hall of Fame anti-BHO troll "37thandO" was driven from the blogosphere by the wit of "malis," he posted several unhinged rants here under the name "Dorchesterandcongress." Now, from November 2008, "37":

"If there was a white Presidential candidate who was found to be a member of a racist church, same as the Rev. Wright's church except substitute "white values" for "black values" and visa vera, THE MEDIA WOULD BE IN TOTAL ATTACK MODE AGAINST THAT WHITE CANDIDATE.


OBAMA IS A RACIST - OBAMA HAS GIVE $20,000.00 TO A RACIST CHURCH IN ONE YEAR.


Washington Post - there are a lot of Churches in Chicago which are black and which are not racist - Obama did not have to give $20,000.00 to this one Church - STOP GIVING OBAMA A PASS ON HIS RACISM AGAINST WHITES.


WAKE UP WASHINGTON POST WAKE UP MEDIA.


WAKE UP AMERICA.


.


.


Exactly right he's racist. Just listen to Irreverend Wrong, his pastor for many, many years.


Exactly right he's socialist. Just listen to him admit it to Joe the Plumber, or his interviews in the past.


Exactly right he's a rotten human being. Just look at his abortion voting record.


Exactly right he has questionable judgment. Just look at his associations with people in his past.


Exactly right he's corrupt. Just look at the Rezko land deal.


Exactly right he's a liar. Just look at what he says about taxes vs. how he's actually voted.


Exactly right he has no executive experience. Just look at his resume -- or lack thereof.


Exactly right he's secretive. Just look at his lack of birth certificate, SAT scores, grades, etc. etc., etc.


Exactly right he'll be challenged in his first 6 months of office if elected. Just look at what he says about meeting unconditionally with world leaders.


We cannot be SERIOUS about electing this guy!! Obama in charge of nukes?! What. The.


Sorry George Washington, we messed everything up.


We stopped demanding the best people in the White House.


.


.


Posted by: DorchesterAndCongress | November 2, 2008 11:10 PM"

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 29, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

RELAY ASSISTANCE REQUIRED...

Will some kind "Fix" reader please forward the following to Naomi Wolf at http://huffpost.com/naomi-wolf (I'm apparently being blocked from posting to her blog site):

Ms. Wolf,

Regarding your blog item today about Gitmo prisoners; thousands of Americans also are being tortured, silently, by microwave and laser directed energy weapons widely deployed and being used against "targeted" American citizens. Please read my article at:

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: GESTAPO USA

Thank you, and thanks for helping to fight draconian, unconstitutional censorship of telecommunications in America.

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 29, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Nine months after GW 'baby' Bush was sworn in, America is attacked by terrorists and Bush declares that the world has changed. Seven years later, having failed to capture those responsible for the attacks, Bush announces that the economy is collapsing and that he'll hand it over to the new guy.

Nine months after Obama is sworn in, his aggressive recovory package and 'no drama', non-ideological approach has successfully saved the World economy from collapse and righted the Ship of State.

Let Republicans spew their Fear, Hatred, Distortions and Divisions. I'd say, heckuva job Mr. President, keep up the good work.

Posted by: thebobbob | October 29, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

The US govt didn't give out money to "the banks and wall st" in the 3rd quarter. If those companies gave out bonuses, it came out of their profits. Either one counts as GDP, yes.

Cash for Clunkers was in the 3rd quarter, along with other stimulus efforts. That. Was. The. Point. Keep factories from closing, limit the job losses, etc.

No one thinks we are out of the woods. We have to "wind down" the stimulus efforts carefully, in order to avoid inflation and yet not go into a second "dip." Private investment has to pick up as the stimulus drops off. Nobody is happy with 10% unemployment, either, but that always lags.

If things are still better in a year, the administration deserves a lot of credit. If things have gotten worse again, then the Democrats deserve to be voted out of congress. But right now, it looks like the stimulus was a good idea.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 29, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

so nice to come here and find JakeD has moved on ... and I found it ! - stinking up the comments section of the Healthcare debate. He does enjoy spinning the news, and I knew he could not stay away.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | October 29, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Nice try, but it's very hard - and very transparent - to try and spin the first positive economic gains in years into a negative for the president. Not going to happen...

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | October 29, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Does the GDP include all the bonus money the banks & wall street got ? What about unemployment, it keeps going higher, what about bankruptcies, people can't afford 29 % interest rates on their Credit cards, what about home foreclosures, again it's going higher ? The politicians live in a cave, they either close their eyes to the "REAL" America or don't care about it ?

Posted by: wasaUFO | October 29, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

"Well color me wrong. I said Palin would decline, or accept and then decline. It never occurred to me that she would be so greedy as to try and get a speaker's fee for it."

Well, morality aside, this is probably a pretty clear sign that she doesn't want to run for President. To get face time with people who are going to vote in the caucuses is worth more than the political equivalent of $100k.

Either that, or she doesn't know what she's doing.

Or perhaps she DOES know what she's doing and is betting the group will pony up the cash giving her the money as well as the appearance. It does seem like they are trying to raise the money.

Posted by: DDAWD | October 29, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Well color me wrong. I said Palin would decline, or accept and then decline. It never occurred to me that she would be so greedy as to try and get a speaker's fee for it.

This is the clearest signal yet. She is not interested in the Iowa caucuses. She is interested in easy money.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 29, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The Most Important Number in Politics Today:

100,000

That's the number of dollars Sarah Palin wants to address a group of Republican voters in Iowa.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1009/28873.html

Just in case you were wondering what her priorities are.

Posted by: nodebris | October 29, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Well, the positive GDP numbers may be good for Democrats in next week's elections, and good for the administration also.

But the important thing is, it's good news for OUR COUNTRY. I know there are some Obama-haters out there wanting him to fail, and with economic recovery their hopes of a Republican congress fade.

Look on the bright side, conservatives: your retirement portfolios are recovering nicely.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 29, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

what a surprise -- a group of violent lunatics supports hoffman.

"Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate for New York’s traditionally Republican 23rd District, has just won the right-wing support of the Minuteman Political Action Committee — the political action arm of a “nativist extremist” armed vigilante group. The Minuteman PAC is currently running Independent Expenditure radio spots and predicts that Hoffman is “positioned to win a landslide victory” over Republican Party nominee Dede Scozzafava."

Posted by: drindl | October 29, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman has a clear shot to win next week’s New York special election and is within one point of the lead, according to the latest Daily Kos poll out today. The poll shows Democrat Bill Owens holding a tiny one-point lead over Hoffman, 33 to 32 percent, with Republican Dede Scozzafava lagging behind in third with 21 percent of the vote. It’s clear Hoffman is gaining momentum

clearly conservatism beats liberalism which beats phony RINOs. It's like a big game of rock, paper, scissors, except poor Libs always lose and RINOs are worse. Hence the McCain outcome. that should teach us about letting the NYTimes choose our candidates. Likewise VA goes conservative across the board, with some help from Obimbo of course. Even deep blue NJ has had it with libs and is seriously contemplating a conservative choice even with the split vote. this is truly a bellwhether for all the idiocy of a "split party" and the liberal advice of sticking to the mushy middle.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

ATTENTION MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, TEAM OBAMA: Better Economy Won't Fix Covert Gov't Crimes Against Humanity -- But YOU Can...

SECRET USE OF MICROWAVE/LASER RADIATION 'DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPONS' ON U.S. CITIZENS MAKES HEALTH CARE REFORM A CRUEL JOKE

Thousands of unjustly targeted Americans are being damaged by the devastating physiological effects of being silently irradiated by microwave and laser radiation directed energy weapons by a secret executive branch multi-agency coordinated action program...

the weaponization of the electromagnetic spectrum, a silent "final solution" that may have the nation's political leadership in its ideological cross-hairs.

This technology is capable of altering moods, emotions, inducing fatigue, weakness, exhaustion, confusion, life-altering injury, disease and a slow-kill death.

And key elements of the federal bureaucracy -- chief among them the defense/security/intel establishment -- are proliferating these technologies by various modalities, reported to include terrestrial and satellite electromagnetic microwave/laser emissions -- in one iteration, disguised as cell towers.

American citizens and families targeted by this covert torture matrix also are subject to financial sabotage that decimates their livelihoods and financial resources...

and relentless "community stalking" -- harassment, surreptitious home entries and vandalism by government-enabled vigilantes affiliated with federally-funded community policing and anti-terrorism organizations.

Warrantless, covert placement of GPS tracking devices and misuse of cell phone technology to hunt down the unjustly targeted enables this grassroots terrorism.

But the Obama administration continues to allow these warrantless intrusions into the lives of unjustly targeted American families.

By its naivete -- its unquestioning rubber-stamp approval of the deployment of these destructive technologies and programs -- the Obama administration risks presiding over the destruction of democracy, the rule of law, and personal liberty.

PRESIDENT OBAMA, CONGRESS:

BAN the use of microwave/laser directed energy weapons on U.S. citizens or any human being as cruel and unusual and a crime against humanity.

BAN the warrantless tracking of individuals with GPS devices, or via cell phones -- the electronic backbone of an American Gestapo now operating on YOUR watch.

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america OR (if link is corrupted/disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 29, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, put it this way: 3.5 percent growth and the technical end of a recession is sure a lot better headline and better real news than the reverse.

It's frustrating (to use a mild word) that growth always takes so long to affect jobs, foreclosures, etc., and more efforts may be needed to focus on accelerating that kind of grassroots economic improvement if it does not happen quickly enough on its own... but GDP growth is clearly the necessary precursor to any improvement, so thank God for it.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | October 29, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Pollster trend line:

http://tinyurl.com/ygzbjpa


"So does this mean that blaming everything on Bush is now obsolete."

Not for generations to come.

Posted by: nodebris | October 29, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

The poll that you site CC, was done before this new information was made public. I would be willing to bet that five days from now Obama's handling of the economy will be around 54% positive again if not higher.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 29, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

There is no way to spin this in a negative light for the administration. 9 months ago there was talk that we may be entering into the next great depression. Now at seems that the ship has righted itself. IF unemployment turns and starts heading down by April of so of next year the Democrats are going to clean house in November of 2010.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 29, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

So does this mean that blaming everything on Bush is now obsolete.

Who will take the blame then? so many failures, so few scapegoats.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

So does this mean that blaming everything on Bush is now obsolete.

Who will take the blame then? so many failures, so few scapegoats.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

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