Landing a job while unemployed is hard for out-of-work Joes. But all of the top Republican contenders for 2012 will have a big gap in their political resumes by the time the primaries roll around.
Sarah Palin quit her job as governor of Alaska, and Mitt Romney hasn't had a political job -- apart from running for president -- for nearly four years.
Other top GOP contenders Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee have been out of office for several years as well. Tim Pawlenty is not seeking re-election as governor of Minnesota.
Political reporter for the New York Times Matt Bai writes that the lack of incumbency by the Republican contenders could benefit their candidacies at a time when anti-incumbency sentiment is stronger than ever.
Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan ran as former governors and won. Richard Nixon won in 1968 as a former vice president out of office for eight years.
But "you have to go back almost three decades — to the former vice president Walter Mondale in 1984 — to find a major-party candidate who didn’t hold an office on the day he clinched the nomination," Bai writes. "Which makes it strange that a number of Republican aspirants seem to be hoping for their own version of a jobless recovery."
It could help Democrats to paint a Republican challenger to President Obama as a "sideline heckler," not a true leader who faces crises from a position of responsibility, Bai writes.
Romney is the GOP front-runner at this stage, and he can point to a significant past record, including his four years as governor of Massachusetts.
But that's the trouble with having an actual record: Romney's single biggest achievement as governor was passing a universal healthcare bill he is struggling to differentiate from Obama's national law.
And yet, experience isn't all it's cracked up to be. Just ask Hillary Clinton.