Politics on the brain

Brian Brown, ReporterNow that both the Republican and Democratic national conventions have wrapped up and leaders of both parties say they are poised to shape the country’s future, it seems like an appropriate time to take a quick look at the current business and political landscape.

In recent years, political rhetoric has largely been focused on the state of our economy, and the topic remained a key theme at both conventions. Republicans have argued that Democratic policies haven’t worked during the last four years, and Democrats have said they are building a road to recovery and we, as a nation, need to stay the course. The latest numbers from Gallup on consumer spending could bolster arguments for both sides.

Daily consumer spending landed at a $77 average during August, up $9 from last August, but down $20 from 2008. Gallup asks Americans to report what they spent the day before, aside from normal bills or major purchases. The results come from a random sample of 14,964 adults, and the estimates on average daily spending have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

U.S. unemployment in August was 8.1 percent, down from 9.1 percent last year, according to a report out today from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A Sept. 7 news release from Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., however, points out that the unemployment rate has been above 8 percent for 43 months in a row.

In Missouri, the battle for Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seat has been widely covered thanks in large part to Congressman Todd Akin’s remarks on rape and pregnancy, which quickly became a national story as Republican leadership withdrew financial support from his campaign.

An SBJ.net poll during the past week showed that 54 percent of respondents felt Akin does not stand a chance to gain McCaskill’s seat. The latest poll from RasmussinReports.com gives McCaskill a 10-point edge over the congressman, with 48 percent of likely Missouri voters favoring the Democrat.

State unemployment in July was 7.2 percent, up from 7.1 percent in the same month in 2011, according to the Missouri Department of Economic Development. The DED reported last month that the Missouri rate has been below the national average for 35 consecutive months. That may explain why Gov. Jay Nixon holds a 9-point lead over challenger and business owner Dave Spence in the governor’s race, according to RealClearPolitics.com. The website puts President Obama and Mitt Romney in a dead heat this morning, with both attracting 46.7 percent of likely voter support.

As a business publication, and a weekly newspaper, Springfield Business Journal is not focused on the day-to-day twists and turns of the political world. But as election day draws near, we plan to touch on the larger issues facing businesses as well as look at the involvement of local business leaders in the political process. Stay tuned.

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