Mitt Romney thinks the nation made a mistake in 2012 and he wants to give voters a chance to redeem themselves. That's why he wants to run for president again in 2016, the Boston Globe reports, and he plans to make economics the centerpiece of his campaign again.
So it's too bad that he has some truly ugly economic numbers to run on. It's a safe bet that governors on the 2016 campaign trail will tout their state-level economic records. And among that big pool of potential current-or-former-governor candidates, Romney presided over one of the slowest paces of state job growth.
There are lots of perfectly good arguments to be made that this isn't really Romney's fault and that governors don't deserve credit or blame for their state's job performance, but the fact is that all governors try to brag about their records, and Romney has a lot less to brag about than some of his key competitors
Vox ran the numbers and compiled some charts of how all of these potential candidates fared. Here's what we found:
This chart shows that during Romney's four years in office, state nonfarm employment grew by 1.8 percent, compared to around 5.3 percent growth nationwide. Compare that to Perry and Bush's explosive growth.
Of course, Romney only had four years in office, while Perry had 14. This next chart distills these figures into one clear measure, by taking ratios of state job growth to national job growth (that is, the dark blue bars in the above chart divided by the light-blue bars).
In this chart, governors whose state job growth outstripped the national rate are marked with purple bars; those who underperformed get green bars. Texas' rate of job creation while Perry was in office was more than four times the national rate, and Florida's under Jeb Bush was more than two and a half times the national rate. Romney's Massachusetts, meanwhile, was around one-third the national rate during his four years in office.
Once again, let's be clear that this doesn't mean these candidates created all those jobs themselves (as I wrote earlier this week, state job figures generally have little to do with who's in the governor's mansion compared to much bigger outside forces).
But it is true that "I created jobs" is one of the most common claims a nominee will make on the campaign trail to appeal to voters, particularly in a campaign taking place during a economic recovery. Romney may tout his leadership and management credentials — and he may well be skilled in those areas — but those sorts of things aren't quantifiable, and moreover won't catch voters' eyes the way jobs numbers do. And his numbers quite simply don't stack up well to many of his likely opponents.