Debate all they want, but as the economy improves, Republican prospects fade.

The number of people seeking unemployment aid was unchanged last week and the four-week average of applications fell to its lowest point in four years, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The figures are the latest evidence that the job market is improving.

351,000 new laid-off workers sought unemployment benefits last week, while the four-week average fell for the sixth consecutive week to 359,000, its lowest level in four years. That bodes well for the February jobs report. 375,000 weekly claims is generally considered the mark beneath which hiring is strong enough to lower unemployment.

And remember how pundits kept reminding us how 8 percent was a magic number above which President Obama could kiss the White House goodbye? Unemployment now stands at 8.3 percent, following five consecutive monthly drops. At this pace Obama might be asking voters next fall that classic Reaganesque question: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

Meanwhile, Republicans keep campaigning as if it were 2010.