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The State of the Economy...and the Presidential Election

New York. Political lore has it that people vote their wallets; in large part, they choose a leadership team based on their immediate sense of economic well-being and confidence about the future. Peace and prosperity tend to favor an incumbent, while a distressed economy can spell trouble for a candidate's reelection bid. What follows are snapshots of the economic conditions in the 10 states with the most votes in the Electoral College, which elects the president and vice president.

New York is considered a weak state for President Bush even in the best of times. Though 1988 was a fairly good year for New York's economy and the state went for Ronald Reagan in two previous elections, Democrat Michael Dukakis took all 36 of the state's electoral votes.

Economic growth in New York continues to be very slow by national standards. A few industries such as securities and banking are faring somewhat better than most. The retail sector has been hard hit. Macy's, long the Big Apple's largest retailer, has been forced to restructure by selling off marginal stores.

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Alexander's, the area's major mass-market retailer, is closing down. Long Island, an area considered a GOP bastion, is hard hit. Unemployment, particularly in the New York City area, has been far above the national average.

Rosemary Scanlon, chief economist for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, says New York's economy is improving slowly. She cites an increase in "help wanted" signs appearing around the city over the last month or so as one indicator.

Still, Richard Netzer, a professor of economics and public administration at New York University, notes that unemployment is a lagging indicator. Thus, New York's electoral votes are likely to go Democratic this year.

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