It's certainly debatable whether the mortgage meltdown and credit crunch will push the economy into recession. I don't think so. But you could make the case that key 2008 battleground states are already in a downturn.
Take Florida, which President Bush won 52 to 47 over John Kerry. In the second quarter, for instance, existing-home sales fell by nearly 30 percent from a year earlier. Building permits are down 60 percent. And guess what? Unemployment is rising, to 4 percent in August from 3.3 percent a year earlier. With housing prices falling and jobless rates rising, the situation looks like a "regional recession," according to JPMorgan Chase.
Or take Nevada, another formerly hot housing market that Bush won by 3 percentage points over Kerry. Its unemployment rate was 5 percent in August, up from 4.2 percent a year earlier. In Ohio, a state that Bush won by 2 points and that kept political analysts up late election night, the unemployment rate is 5.7 percent.
So if you're a voter who sees unemployment going up and the price of your home going down, you might well vote for Democrats as the "party of change." Maybe rising incomes and a rising stock market would offset those woes. Maybe not. Indeed, over at the Eyeon08 website, GOP political analyst and blogger Patrick Ruffini recalls that Republicans lost New Hampshire and California in 1992 over the housing slump.