Ezra Klein has a very insightful article out in Newsweek in which he discusses what we should (and should not) focus on as we try to predict what’s going to happen in the midterm elections this November.
For decades now, political scientists have been building election models that attempt to predict who will win in November without making any reference to candidates or campaigns. They can get within 2 points of the final vote, and they don’t need to know anything about the ads and the gaffes and the ground games. All they really need to know about is the economy.
He goes on to discuss research which shows that the best predictor is the level of real disposable income in the public: the more money voters have in their pockets on election day, the better the incumbent party will do in the aggregate.
This also implies that a host of other “traditional” factors (BP spill, Kagan confirmation hearings, health care votes, deficit spending, etc.) will likely not make much of a difference to the overall results of the midterm elections.