Economy on the minds of New Hampshire voters

January 8, 2012 8:21:33 PM PST
Despite their state's relatively low 5.2% unemployment and one of the lowest poverty rates in the country, New Hampshirites insist the economy is still the biggest issue here.

"Just because we happen to be doing better in New Hampshire there's still unemployment here, there's people who have lost their jobs," said New Hampshire voter Robert Fishwick

The latest statistics indicate the rest of the country might be catching up. The Labor Department announced Friday the national jobless rate fell again in December to 8.5% and that the economy added 200,000 new jobs.

"We've had 22 months of private sector job growth now," said David Axelrod, political consultant to President Obama, on This Week. "It has been a climb up."

None of the Republican candidates will give President Obama credit for the improving numbers. During both weekend debates, they blamed administration policies for worsening the recession.

"All these things collectively create the ? a reality of a president who has been anti-investment, anti-jobs, anti-business," Republican front-runner Mitt Romney said. "And people feel that."

New Hampshire Democrat Claire Duffy is not worried by Romney and other Republicans continuing to blame Obama for the nation's economic problems.

"That's to be expected, really," Duffy said. "Its not bothering me because I know that he's going to pull through and win, I think."

During the early 1980's recession, unemployment numbers did not improve until then-President Ronald Reagan's re-election year in 1984. He went on to win by an 18-point landslide. New Hampshire Institute of Politics Director Neil Levesque sees a possible, Reagan-like scenario for Obama.

"Better economic numbers are certainly better for the President and the incumbent and that will certainly be the case and I'm sure that the White House this week, when they saw those numbers were very, very happy," Levesque said. "That is the biggest factor going into November."