Forget Walker's Win - It's the Economy, Stupid
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Could Mitt Romney really win Wisconsin?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's recall victory on Tuesday has prompted many pundits to argue the state is in play for Romney in 2012, but the GOP nominee's hopes may rest more on the economic situation there than a mid-year recall.
A glance at unemployment, housing foreclosures, industries, per capita GDP and gas prices may lend an early predictor as to how Wisconsin could swing in November.
Unemployment has dropped to 6.7% in Wisconsin (the latest estimate is from April) since a peak of 9.2% in June and July of 2009. That number is below the 8.2% national average and has steadily dropped every month since the worst of the recession. That 6.7% ties the state for the 16th best unemployment rate.
Though Florida, Nevada and California typically make headlines about housing foreclosures, Wisconsin doesn't exactly have the best record in the country. The state ranks ninth in U.S. foreclosure activity counts and was 10th in April for highest foreclosure rate at 1 in every 547 units.
Nonfarm wage and salary employment numbers across various industries in Wisconsin are mixed. Based on 12-month percentage changes, the state has lost in construction, trade, transportation and utilities, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government. There have been gains in manufacturing, professional and business services, and education and health.
Per capita GDP in 2011 was at about $40,073, up from a 2010 adjusted-for-inflation amount of $39,431. With the 2011 per capita number, Wisconsin managed to surpass its recession lulls.
Gas prices -- commonly misinterpreted by voters as a referendum on presidents -- have fallen from 2012 highs to $3.60 a gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Midwestern states saw gas prices start the year at about $3.26 a gallon, before they peaked at $3.85 in early April. Barring military action against Iran, energy analysts expect prices will slowly drop through the meat of the summer campaign season.
There are a lot of moving parts for Wisconsin voters to sift through as they determine who to select, but economic signs in June don't lend much help to President Obama or Romney. As the economy continues to drive the American electorate, beware the pitfall of assuming Walker's victory will predict a presidential outcome in the state.
-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.