If Americans 'Vote Their Wallets,' What Will That Mean in November?

Voting with walletsOnce upon a time (circa 1992), a certain political pundit coined the clever phrase "It's the economy, stupid," whispered it in Bill Clinton's ear, and cemented Democrats' hold over the White House for the next eight years. Ever since, politicians have taken the advice to heart.

In an election year, voters are expected to "vote their pocketbooks" -- incumbents tend to win in good economies, and challengers in bad ones. One study published earlier this year argued that "economic and institutional factors [account for] about 75% of the variation of the popular vote in presidential elections since 1916."

Right now, unemployment figures show 8.2% of the population out of work. The last time a sitting president was reelected with an unemployment rate this high was in 1940. So if the trend holds true, 2012 could be a very bad year for President Obama. Worse, a recent poll conducted by Bankrate.com appears to confirm that this is how things will play out. (Emphasis on "appears.")

Forget About "the 1%"; Check Out the 59%

According to the poll, 59% of Americans agree that their personal financial situation will play a big role in how they vote in November. Not necessarily a dispositive role (only 12% are so crass as to claim that their personal finances are the "single most important" factor in a nationwide election), but an important one nonetheless.

You see, there's another old saw in politics: "A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours." And the good news for the president is that despite the lousy economy, a sufficiently large number of people still have jobs, so the country as a whole isn't yet convinced that Obama must go.

And Don't Forget the 50%

Indeed, according to the poll, voters are still evenly split (21%-21%) on whether electing Obama or his challenger, Republican Mitt Romney, will put more money in voters' wallets. Even more interestingly, when posed this question, a whopping 50% of the country threw up their hands in despair and said it doesn't matter who sits in the White House as far as how it affects their finances, which in many cases are still going to hell in a handbasket.

Unless and until one candidate comes up with a solution to drag America out of its decade of decline, it looks like the real winner of the 2012 presidential race will be ... apathy.



Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith is seriously considering writing in Mickey Mouse for president on the 2012 ballot.

Learn about investing from the comfort of your own home.

Portfolio Basics

Take the first steps to building your portfolio.

View Course »

Investment Strategies

Learn the strategies you need to build a winning portfolio

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

68 Comments

Filter by:
docmetcalf1955

the current regime has done nothing to improve the lives of the common man.

July 04 2012 at 3:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
chris1011

If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.

Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.

These are the kinds of extremes climate scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it's far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.

Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn't caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen.

And this weather has been local. Europe, Asia and Africa aren't having similar disasters now, although they've had their own extreme events in recent years.

But since at least 1988, climate scientists have warned that climate change would bring, in general, increased heat waves, more droughts, more sudden downpours, more widespread wildfires and worsening storms. In the United States, those extremes are happening here and now.

So far this year, more than 2.1 million acres have burned in wildfires, more than 113 million people in the U.S. were in areas under extreme heat advisories last Friday, two-thirds of the country is experiencing drought, and earlier in June, deluges flooded Minnesota and Florida.

"This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level," said Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. "The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about."

Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in fire-charred Colorado, said these are the very record-breaking conditions he has said would happen, but many people wouldn't listen. So it's I told-you-so time, he said.

July 03 2012 at 6:40 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
warren

Electing Dr.Trickle Romney the five fingered sock puppet resident of his political donors who says that giving those that destroyed the economy more as those that work to produce in the economy learn to accept less is the cure is more snakeoil than people should have to endure.Dr.Trickle is prescribing the desease we suffer from as the cure and that is snakeoil.400 people have more wealth than 150 million Americans,90% of the wage gains have gone to 1% of the population,corporations make record profits as the have fewer people working for less money,corporations sit on 2 trillion in domestic reserves and 1.4 trillion in foriegn reserves,and Dr.Trickles donors can write multimillion dollar checks at the blink of an eye to get him elected but cannot hire more people or raise wages.Give them more and they will make it all better.When you go to the doctors and say it hurts when I do this he says don't do it, Dr.Trickle says do it more and you'll get used to the pain and love it.

July 03 2012 at 9:37 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ilm9p

Well, let’s see here, what say we open up the wallet of any of your average welfare scum. You’ll find a Medicaid card for free healthcare. You’ll find an EBT card for free food. You’ll find a Section 8 housing ID for free housing, free utilities, and free Cable TV. You’ll also find a voter registration card for the more semi-literate welfare scum with a Party Registration showing “D”. So, all things considered I guess it’s pretty much a wash trying to figure out who this rabble will be voting for.

July 02 2012 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rtgarton

I think both are horrible candidates. So it is pretty much a crap shoot. How bad can it get even with Rommey in. I would just like see some sort of economic climb in this decade

July 01 2012 at 11:44 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Robert

Don't be FOOLED...the GOP "job creators" had their Bush era tax cuts EXTENDED and STILL there are no jobs.

Tax CUTS for rich corporations?? THAT's going to turn this economy around? When? We are still waiting...

Trickle down economics= The GREATEST AMERICAN FRAUD

June 30 2012 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
krzyston

Can ther be a national referndum for the US to apply for statehood to China?
Alexander Krzyston

June 28 2012 at 10:41 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
George McGriff

PARTY, RACE, RELIGION, AND ALL THE DONOT MATTER. WE NEED TO BE AMERICANS AND DEFEND OUR RESPECT AND TAKE CARE OF AMERICAMS. REPECTFULLY, GEMCGRIFF

June 28 2012 at 9:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ray Scarth

yeah, it's taking some time to steady the ship, but does anybody really think we will be better off with another silver spooner running the country with his corporate cronies? Really? If the majority of the american people decide to go down that road again, and let's face it, with this supreme court, one doesn't need a majority (Gore Vs. Bush anyone?), but if they do, then heaven help all of us. You had better pray that you are a christian (or Mormon), because you will need all the help you can get to survive what will be coming!

This president didn't show up with a cape or a magic wand and given what he has had to deal with in the House of Representatives, he's done a stellar job! He had accomplished more poistive change in one year of office than Bush did in eight and that' s a fact!

June 28 2012 at 4:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
galbraith1065

It means I will vote for Obama as I am tired of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

June 28 2012 at 2:06 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply