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Published: Sunday, 10/31/2004

The race, by the numbers

Sometimes the most carefully crafted narrative cannot convey the same sense of impact as a simple list or chart. Our strong endorsement of John Kerry for president is already on the record, but we believe it is helpful and instructive, two days before Tuesday's election, to take a look at the numbers.

And everywhere one looks, the numbers are horrid and trending in the wrong direction.

As a result, we should not be surprised by perhaps the gloomiest number of all: the U.S. Conference Board's measurement of consumer confidence.

The Board announced last week that its consumer confidence index had fallen to 92.8 in October, down four points from September, and a dramatic 35 percent decline from a lofty index of 141.9 during the presidential campaign in 2000. Incumbent presidents are in trouble when the index dips significantly below 100 just before the election, the Board says, citing Gerald Ford's loss in 1976 and Jimmy Carter's loss in 1980.

To underscore how bad this economy is, we offer these charts, comparing economic indicators in 2000 with today's gloomy figures, as stark reminders that a change in America's leadership, to John Kerry, is essential on Tuesday.

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