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Budget Sequestration Effects on Swing States

by Lauren Moore, published
Credit: Real Clear Politics


Swing states can effect an election and therefore effect legislation, but how can the upcoming legislation effect swing states votes?

Any of the past few years annual budgets have been tough for the United States, which is now $15 trillion in debt. However this year, massive portions of the budget are scheduled to be slashed according to the sequester, meaning even more cuts to the budgets, and for struggling states, a heap of trouble. The sequester is a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which would allow for a “sequestration” (a forced collecting of the debt), if the debt was not controlled. Both Republicans and Democrats supported the bill, though neither party is especially happy with the overwhelming cuts they are now faced with. The sequester establishes a whopping $1.2 trillion must be cut out of the governments annual budget, and swing states are some of the most heavily affected.

According to the Lexington Institute:

“Specifically, four of the ten states losing the most defense jobs if sequestration is triggered -- Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- could prove pivotal in the November election. President Obama won each of the four states by five percent or less of the vote in his 2008 presidential bid, so a modest shift in voter sentiment could doom his reelection prospects.”

The report calculated that the defense sequestration would reduce gross domestic product by 0.6% and national employment by 907,000 jobs in the fiscal year 2013. The economy would face even worse prospects in 2014 with 1,211,000 jobs lost ranging across multiple industries in all 50 states. The GDP in 2014 would be reduced a further 0.8% .

Virginia, more recently considered one of the swing states, will be one of the hardest hit should the sequester take hold. Military spending has played a large role in Virginia, and has created many jobs, in part contributing to the republican switch most recently. An estimate of 87,000 jobs are expected to be destroyed, and for a population of 8,096,604, and an already high unemployment rate of 5.6%, this would drop Virginia’s unemployment rate 6.7% which would pull it from the 10th place to 18th with regards to state unemployment rates rankings.

This could really hurt President Obama’s chances at reelection says Virginia-based Republican, strategist Chris LaCivita.

“Obama’s reelection, in my opinion, starts and ends through Virginia Beach. That’s clearly the tip of the spear in a lot of ways,” he said.

Florida is projected to lose the fourth highest number of jobs due to the sequester and the past elections have been even closer in the sunshine state. In Virginia, President Obama took first in the polls inching out over Sen. McCain with 50.7% of the vote, but down south, President Obama only won with 49.9% if the vote, compared to McCain’s 49.5%.

As the Lexington Institute put it, it’s “a razor-thin victory margin that could easily be wiped out the next time around by modest shifts in voter sentiment.”

Pennsylvania, on the other hand, is a little more in favor of the Democratic party, voting 54.7% for President Obama to Sen. McCain's 44.3% in 2008. But the state is slated to lose a lot with the sequestration, a predicted 26,000 job loss, which will really hurt the 28th ranked, 7.5% unemployment rated state.

There is still time for the president and Congress to avoid the sequestration, by perhaps delaying it a year or finding cuts in other areas than the defense budget, but raising taxes or additional cuts to education are not favored by the swing state voters either.


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