With a mere 58 days to go, the political calendar is destiny, and a handful of key dates and events could profoundly impact the outcome of a rough and tumble and remarkably close race. The fact that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spent last week prepping for the first presidential debate with President Obama while Democrats held their national conventiontells a lot about the remaining forces that could decide the Nov. 6 election.
These include four candidate debates, possible action by the Federal Reserve, government reports on unemployment and third-quarter economic growth , and what—if anything—Congress decides to do in advance of the general election to blunt tough spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect next January that could carry the country over a fiscal cliff.
Last Friday, Obama was thrown a curve ball when the August jobs reportshowing a mere 96K jobs created even though the unemployment rate had dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent. The reason: 368,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force last month and another 213,000 never joined it at all.
Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar with the Brookings Institution, said last week he expects little substantive action from the sorely divided Congress before the election, but thinks that last minute actions by the Fed and the release of more government economic analysis could tip the balance of the election by altering “voter perceptions of the economy.”