DEBATE: Do These 3 Charts Show that Obama is Doomed in Election 2012?

The Atlantic published an article this week analyzing three charts, all of which seem to suggest that Obama will lose 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 chart suggests that Obama would have to begin creating 300,000 jobs created per month in order to surpass George H. W. Bush, the next lowest who won re-election.


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 Person Per Capita Disposable Income” and “U of Michigan Consumer Sentiment.”


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

Nevertheless, the numbers according to these metrics are pretty grim for Obama.

Weigh In: Why is Obama so popular if he isn’t succeeding compared to other presidents, particularly in terms of creating jobs? 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? 

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Courtney Hodrick

I'm a freshman at Yale University participating in the Directed Studies program. I was the Opinions and Editorials editor of my high school newspaper, I'm a distance runner, and I've been a vegetarian since I was 12.

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