Why Obama Should Be Worried About The Latest Unemployment Numbers

Veterans listen as a representative from White Rose Foods, foreground right, talks about their agency during a job fair introducing veterans to careers in the security and private investigations industry at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York.

While President Obama has maintained a consistently large lead amongst Latino voters, the danger for him has always been that voters who might be disillusioned by the down economy don't show up to vote.

In the three battleground states with the highest shares of Latino voters, the unemployment rate is higher than the national average in September. Nevada has a whopping 11.8 percent unemployment rate, Florida's is 8.7 percent, and Colorado's is 8.0 percent, just a tick above the national 7.8 percent rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Two other states where Latino voters could also play an influential role present a mixed bag. Virginia has a 5.9 percent unemployment rate, well below the national rate, while North Carolina's is at 9.6 percent.

While the agency doesn't break down state data by ethnicity, the national unemployment rate among Latinos remains at 9.9 percent, well above the national average.

The data released Friday could play a role in shaping the perceptions of undecided voters in these states, considering it is the last time that state-by-state info will be published before November 6. In fact, early voting is already underway in many battleground states like Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio so voters there are making up their minds as we speak.

Obama has argued that his policies have helped stop the bleeding and have moved the economy forward. Florida (-1.7), Nevada (-1.8), and North Carolina (-1.1) have seen the overall unemployment rate drop over the past year.

Romney has said that progress has not happened fast enough and that the president's policies in some cases has slowed the recovery. In many Latino-heavy battleground states, the jobs situation has improved during the last 12 months, but remains in poor shape.

But how will those messages affect the perceptions of Latino voters in different places? While there is little state-by-state data, surveys show that Latino voters consistently rank the economy as their number one issue most important to them personally, the same as all voters do. But despite the down economy, in which Latinos have been disproportionately hit, by and large they have not taken out their frustration on President Obama.

Nationally, Latinos have consistently named President George W. Bush and Congress as more culpable for the state of the economy than President Obama, according to Latino Decisions polling released earlier this month.

In Latino Decisions battleground state polling, 51 percent said they trust Obama to make the right decisions to improve the U.S. economy, while just 27 percent named Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, with 15 percent saying neither. But the race tightened after the first presidential debate and in at least one state, Romney may have made some gains based on the economy.

A Florida International University/Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald (FIU) poll showed Romney performing better among Florida Latinos, which include a sizable portion of Cuban-Americans who lean Republican. There, 51 percent Obama would do a better job fixing the economy compared to 48 percent for Romney. Critics of the poll have said it oversampled Cuban-American voters at the expense of Puerto Rican and other Latin American voters who lean more Democratic.

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