Debate: Do These Three Charts Doom Obama for Re-election?


The Atlantic published an article analyzing three charts, all of which seem to point to a loss for Obama in November. The first, created by James Pethokoukis, compares incumbent share of the vote to a combined factor of military fatalities and economic growth. When plotted on the graph’s clear trend line, President Obama is projected to receive around 47% of the vote, hardly enough to clinch reelection.

The second, from blog Political Math, stacks up the number of jobs created during a president’s term for each term since 1948. Obama falls incredibly short of every past president, even (or maybe, especially) compared to presidents who faced similar unemployment rates, such as Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush. Though Obama hasn’t served for an entire term yet, the chartists pointed out that it would take him 300,000 jobs created a month in order to surpass George H. W. Bush, the next lowest.

The third chart, from AEIdeas, compares President Obama to past incumbent presidents, both successful and unsuccessful at winning reelection, on five metrics that determine reelection. He falls far short of the average winner in every category, and even fails to surpass the average loser in real per capita disposable income and the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index.

And yet, as The Atlantic points out, the president’s polling numbers are actually rising. They raise the important points that the metrics that have been important to voters in past decades may not be as highly valued right now, and that voters aren’t comparing candidates to previous presidents nearly as much as they are to each other. Nevertheless, the numbers are pretty grim.

Weigh In: Why is Obama so popular if he isn’t succeeding compared to other presidents? Do you think that these specific economic metrics are the most important issues in the election, or are there other ways to measure a president’s success? Looking at the numbers, do you think Obama will be able to pull off a victory in November?