2012 = 2004
October 5, 2012 Leave a comment
And not just because an incumbent went on to win a close election after a widely-panned first debate performance. Nate Silver today:
Historically, there has been no relationship at all between the unemployment rate on Election Day and the incumbent’s performance.
However, there has been a relationship between the change in the unemployment rate in the months leading up to the election and how well the incumbent does. The decline in unemployment under Mr. Obama this year since December is the largest in an election year since Ronald Reagan’s re-election bid, when it declined to 7.3 percent in Sept. 1984 from 8.3 percent in Dec. 1983.[Silver's actual chart omitted here]
The drop in unemployment alone is no guarantee of re-election — there was also a considerable drop in unemployment in 1976, and Gerald Ford lost.
However, the FiveThirtyEight economic index, which accounts for the payrolls numbers along with six other economic data series, would project a narrow re-election for Mr. Obama by about 3 percentage points — similar to Mr. Bush’s margin over John Kerry in 2004. Especially with the Friday jobs report, the economic numbers now seem just strong enough to make the incumbent a favorite for re-election, based on the way the public has evaluated their presidents historically.