Real personal income falling
Research shows that the amount of money Americans earn after taxes and inflation is one of the most reliable predictors of a president’s November chances — more so than the unemployment rate. In the past year, most Americans have barely seen a bump in earnings, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
But the figures for the past two months create the potential for an even more dire situation for the White House: Wages increased at a slower rate than energy prices, so the measure known as disposable personal income dropped. With take-home pay effectively falling 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent in January and February, respectively. If take-home pay continues to fall, as it has for the first two months of the year, President Barack Obama would be lucky to get 45 percent of the vote, according to a model developed by former Harvard University professor Douglas Hibbs.
Vanderbilt University political scientist Larry Bartels said one of his models, based on the outcomes of elections from 1948 to 2008, shows that Obama will be the favorite if incomes grow by more than 1 percent over the course of the year.
The decline in January and February “would suggest that the economy needs to pick up between now and November in order for him to have a good chance to win,” Bartels said. . . .