Mixed Bag Messaging
Posted on January 11, 2010
If the first ten days of 2010 are any indication, those facing voters this November will be challenged in how they talk about the economic landscape. For every bit of gloomy economic news, there seems to be a ray of hope. Recent headlines from the DC region are but a microcosm of the roller coaster ride our economy is on.
The Washington Times laid off 60 percent of its editorial staff and Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin announced plans to eliminate 1,200 jobs. During the same week, defense contractor Northrop Grumman announced it is relocating its corporate headquarters from Los Angeles to the Washington area by 2011 and prospective homebuyers in our suburbs are apparently finding themselves in bidding wars once again.
Riders of Washington’s Metro subway system were informed they’ll have longer waits and possibly higher fares for their daily commute due to the public transportation system’s budget deficit. But the amount of leased downtown DC Office space is increasing and commercial rental rates are up.
Similar schizophrenia defined national economic indicators. Dismal job figures reported by the Labor Department were countered with reports of increased attendance and enthusiasm levels at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
For incumbents, this mixed bag poses a message challenge. Certainly it is much too soon for politicians to claim a turn-around. But a gloom-and-doom platform does not reflect the American sentiment that, according to Gallup, is more optimistic about the economy than we have been the last two years. Re-election seekers will do well to keep a close eye on the beliefs and attitudes of their local constituencies in the months ahead rather than burying their heads in the Beltway sand.