Reality Check 2012

by David Bositis, Ph.D.

When the 2012 Republican presidential candidates speak, there is a constant refrain about President Obama’s “failed presidency.”  Maybe that is the case by their standards.  On the other hand, by more objective standards, not so much.  The President took office when the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression was already well underway, and while the economy remains weak in many respects–especially in job creation–it is most certainly improving due to his efforts.  In the fourth quarter of 2011, the economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent, and unemployment has fallen for four straight months.  Black unemployment in January declined sharply from December–from 15.8 percent to 13.6 percent.  Mr. Obama has been somewhat reluctant to boast about his accomplishments, but they are substantial, ranging from the stimulus bill in 2009 to Health Care Reform, a payroll tax cut for ordinary Americans, and the elimination of Osama Bin Laden.

While the Republican candidates haven’t recognized the President’s accomplishments, the public has.  President Obama’s job approval numbers are now in positive territory, and he leads all the GOP contenders in national surveys by a statistically significant amount.  Further, Mr Obama leads his would-be opponents in most of the important 2012 swing states including Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.  Mr. Obama’s average favorable ratings are 49.2 percent favorable and 45.5 percent unfavorable.  Mr. Romney’s average favorable ratings are 31.9 percent favorable and 46.9 percent unfavorable.  Time for a reality check?

David A. Bositis, Ph.D., who has been at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies since 1990, is a voting rights and redistricting expert.

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