Wonks, number junkies, and hyperventilating social media types had a Columbus Day weekend for the ages. New job numbers released by Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the country added 114,000 jobs and the U.S. unemployment rate had dropped below 8% for the first time since January 2009. Former General Electric CEO (and Romney supporter) Jack Welch claimed the numbers were cooked to favor the Obama campaign and doubled down on this claim after it generated its own spasm of controversy. Despite this, the news was a boon for the Obama campaign in the wake of a debate performance last week in Denver that was widely deemed as lackluster.
But the ballast was short-lived because the following day, a new series of polls signaled that Republican candidate Mitt Romney had seemingly all but erased the gains made by President Obama in the month of September, making the race the closest it had been since June. A Pew Research survey even placed Mr. Romney ahead of President Obama by four points among likely voters, the best polling result yet (despite some objections to the real meaning of the poll).
Meanwhile, in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu called for early elections yesterday in a move that surprised no one. Netanyahu, along with the parties in his coalition, seemed poised to do well. Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, blustered that he believes his party will become the second-largest in Israel, further mooring the country to his very flamboyant brand of nationalism.
A strong showing by Netanyahu’s cohorts would free him up to act with broader support on a panoply of tough issues including Israel’s budget (and, of course, Iran). Meanwhile, opposition to Netanyahu seems listless with Shaul Mofaz having done the reverse King Midas on Kadima–Israel’s largest party, which will lose most of its seats–and all the other possible alternatives for leadership seemingly appear to be either too old and tainted or too young and pure. As Michael Koplow writes:
The reason Netanyahu is calling for new elections now is primarily because the domestic political scene is so favorable for him. Much like when he engineered the unity government deal with Mofaz and Kadima last spring, there will undoubtedly be speculation that the timing of the vote is related to Iran or to the peace process. But as was the case back in May, this is not being done with foreign policy considerations in mind.
If you were tuned out for Simchat Torah, you missed everything and nothing.
Romney Erases Obama Convention Bounce in Forecast [NYT]
A Great Poll for Romney, In Perspective [NYT]
U.S Added 114,000 Jobs in September [NYT]
Jack Welch Claims Job Reports Suspicions Correct [ABC]
Is Romney Ahead Four Points? [TNR]
The Election About Nothing [Daily Beast]