Power Play Update: Economic Uncertainty, Political Certainty

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The news today on unemployment might best be summed up by saying "unsteady as she goes." The September numbers are essentially more of the same - weak private sector job growth coupled with a stimulus hangover resulting in government layoffs.

The uncertainty that economists of all stripes say haunts the economy is still very much present.

But in politics there is certainty when it comes to unemployment - it's always been bad for the party in power. With Gallup estimating the real unemployment rate over 10 percent and underemployment plus unemployment closer to 18 percent, this is exactly the kind of climate Democrats did not want to have this fall.

If you want to know why, consider the top four states for unemployment in last month's survey - Nevada, Michigan, California and Florida. Republican candidates at all levels are outperforming what history and circumstance suggest they should be doing. Blue states become purple and red states get redder with high unemployment.

It also helps explain why Democrats are getting killed this year with two key groups - Hispanics and whites without college degrees. Both groups are especially sensitive to instability in the job market. It is no surprise to see Hispanic enthusiasm down from 2006 and 2008 and for whites without college degrees to prefer Republicans by a historic 22 point margin .