At their debate Tuesday night, former Florida governor (2007-2010), former Republican (1974-2010), former independent (2010-2012) and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist got out the crying towel over why the Sunshine State's economy was so bad on his watch. He also refused to acknowledge that incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott deserves any credit for the state economy's overachievement during the past 45 months.
At the debate, Crist tried to explain away the economic disaster which occurred during his term in office by claiming that — quoting from the debate transcript — "I was serving during the global economic meltdown. And we did the very best we could to get Florida through it and we did." As seen after the jump, the "best we could do" for Crist was far, far worse than the rest of nation's "best" could do. As would be expected, I haven't found any establishment press coverage which has made the comparisons which follow.
Let's start with payroll job contraction under Crist (source data is all from Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics):
Florida payroll employment fell by over 830,000 while Crist was governor, a rate of job bleed that was more than twice as bad as the rest of the nation during that period. If Crist had just done as poorly as the rest the US, 482,000 more Floridians would have still had jobs when his term ended.
Now let's look at job creation during Scott's term thus far:
In the past 12 months, Florida's economy has added a seasonally adjusted 205,600 payroll jobs — the seventh-best performance in the nation. Thanks to the fact that Florida employment has expanded faster than it has in the rest of the US, 62,000 more Floridians have found a job during that time.
In the past 45 months, Florida has added over 626,000 payroll jobs. The Sunshine State's performance has led to over 156,000 more jobs than would have been created if it had merely matched the rest of the nation.
One final point relates to the more inclusive Household Survey which is used to calculate the unemployment rate:
Coverage at the New York Times focused on the debate's intensity in negative terms ("Debate for Florida Governor Takes On a Hostile Edge") relayed Crist's "woe was me" claim in paraphrased form:
But Mr. Crist quickly pointed out that as governor from 2007 to 2011 he had little control over a recession that walloped the United States and the rest of the country.
But he had as much control over hard his state got hit as any other state governor, and exercised that control quite poorly.
At least the Times cited the rough number of payroll jobs lost under Crist and gained under Scott.
Coverage at the Associated Press, only said that Scott" faulted Crist for pursuing policies while he was governor that he said hurt the economy and led to job losses during the Great Recession" without getting into any specifics. The story at Reuters didn't even contain the word "jobs."
In light of the economic track records just cited, many observers around the country are expressing utter amazement that the Florida governor's race is as close as it reportedly is, at least according to the polls. The explanation lies in two factors: Floridians' short memories, and the establishment press's nearly complete failure to cite Crist's awful record, or Scott's strong one.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.