It's still about jobs. What will determine the core success of President Obama's second term is progress -- or the lack thereof -- in reducing long-term unemployment. We know this from exit polls, which ranked the economy as the top issue (selected by about 60 percent of voters) and, more important, from common sense.
To be sure, the labor market has improved from its low point. At 7.9 percent, the unemployment rate is down from its peak of 10 percent in October 2009. The ratio of job seekers to job openings has declined from 6.7-to-1 (nearly seven unemployed for every job) in July 2009 to 3.4-to-1 in September, reports Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. Still, that's much higher than the 1.5-to-1 or 2-to-1 that prevails in a stronger labor market.