A home-price index tracked by the Federal Housing Finance Administration shows that nationally, property values dropped 9 percent during the last four years. But alone among the swing states, Iowa actually posted a tiny bit of appreciation since the Obama election: Values are up 1 percent. Experts see hardship coming from the ongoing drought, but for now the housing industry is looking far stronger than the rest of the battleground states.
Were not seeing a lot of problems with appraisals, said Ken Clark, a Coldwell Banker broker and president of the Des Moines Association of Realtors. We have a good market. We dont have a great market, but we have a good market.
Far on the other end of the battleground spectrum sit Nevada and Florida, two swing states still suffering the consequences of burst housing bubbles, and whose economies are trailing the national recovery in most categories.
Floridas property values have dropped 16 percent in the last four years, a mere slump compared to Nevadas 33 percent plunge. Florida still suffers from a 12 percent foreclosure rate, more than double Nevadas.
The two states havent come close to erasing the damage of the recession in terms of economic output. Floridas GDP is down 4 percent compared to 2008, while Nevadas is down 6 percent. No other swing state comes close to such a weak overall performance during Obamas first term.
Job News USA, a company based in Louisville that runs job fairs across the country, recently saw record attendance at a hiring fair near Fort Lauderdale. About 3,200 people crammed into the Signature Grands banquet hall last month to interview for about 600 openings. A lot more people are getting desperate in their job search, said Tiffany Price, general sales manager for the South Florida area. The people five years ago who would turn their noses up at job fairs now are coming out.
Obama leads Romney by an average of 3.5 percent in the national polls, according to a daily summary by Real Clear Politics, and is ahead of Romney in 12 of the 14 swing states analyzed by the Herald. Romney only leads Obama in Missouri and North Carolina, two swing states with economies that are mostly underperforming the others. Still, Obama is five points ahead in Nevada, easily home to the worst performing swing-state economy.
Wisconsin finished near the bottom of the list of swing states in the Heralds economic scoring, but Obama leads there by five points. Analysts expect the Badger State to get more competitive now that Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan is on the Republican ticket. The economics offer a mixed bag for both campaigns.
Wisconsins 7 percent unemployment rate is comfortably below the national average, but it has seen some of the weakest job growth among the swing states in the last four years. Payroll employment is down 4.5 percent since November 2008, compared to a 1.4 percent national slide. Property values have dropped 9 percent since Election Day four years ago.
The economy is struggling really hard, said Steve Lewis, owner of Lewis Construction in Schofield, Wis. I see empty retail buildings still for lease. They were built in back in 06 or 07. And they still havent been leased. Not to one tenant. Its just not coming back very strong.
The gap between polls and economic performance shows the complex factors both candidates face as they try to pull a swing state into their column. Demographics and social issues can overcome economic issues, as can the way voters perceive a downturn or a recovery.
The question is, in states that are doing well, who do voters credit? said Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown. He pointed to Ohios healthy rebound, with unemployment lower than it was on Election Day 2008 and a full point under the national average. Do you credit Barack Obama or do you credit John Kasich? Brown asked, referring to the states Republican governor.
The question can be a dicey one for the Romney campaign as it balances criticizing the Obama economy without offending hometown Republican governors touting the rebounds underway in their states. At a Romney rally in St. Augustine, Fla., this week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott had encouraging words for the Sunshine States rebound, where unemployment is dropping faster than almost every state in the country.
Even though we have a president that is making it much, much more difficult to do well, in Florida our economy is getting better, Scott said, according to the Associated Press. Just think what the state could do then if we had the right president.