Election 2012 and your pocketbook

Nineteen months is an eternity in politics. Surprise events can pop up. But the key indicator to watch, as always, will be the economy.

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Fast-food chain McDonald's Corp, trying to grab positive headlines in an economic recovery still struggling to create living-wage jobs, announced on Monday that it would do all of its spring hiring in one fell swoop.

Ready or not, here comes 2012.

President Obama yesterday announced his reelection bid. No Republicans have yet officially said they'd run, but many are maneuvering toward it. So what might the world look like come election day?

As former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously said, there are known knowns and known unknowns. From the BP oil spill to uprisings in the Middle East to the Japanese tsunami/nuclear crisis, the unexpected can always challenge the dexterity of leaders.

But a truism of politics is that pocketbook issues are crucial to voters. Plenty is unknown about where the economy is headed. Rising energy and commodity prices and the glut of unsold homes are a continuing challenge. Deep spending cuts in Congress and at state houses could dampen economic activity. But unemployment is easing, consumer spending is rising modestly, and business confidence has been on the rise around the world, according the Moody's Analytics.

The 2008 election occurred during perilous economic times. Politicians know how much the economy matters to voters. What's unknown is whether voters will consider the economy on election day 2012 good enough.

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