In November, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.6% from 9% in October. Democrats have praised this decline in unemployment as a hopeful trend in a seemingly recovering economy. However, the Romney administration did not hesitate to address the decline in unemployment as a reminder of a malfunctioning labor field. Romney released a statement explaining that unemployment has remained above 8% throughout the thirty-four months of Obama’s tenure as president, which is a record high spell since the Great Depression (Richard W. Stevenson). Although unemployment as fallen from a high 10.1% under the Obama administration, Romney’s statement also noted, “The Obama administration may have come to accept such a high level of joblessness as the new normal. I will never accept it” (Richard W. Stevenson). Stephanie Condon of CBS News recounts a statement made by Republican House Speaker John Boehner, “Any job creation is welcome news, but the jobless rate in this country is still unacceptable. As you may remember, the Obama administration promised unemployment would stay below eight percent if its 'stimulus' was enacted. That promise has gone unfulfilled."
President Obama, rightfully hesitant to celebrate an 8.6% unemployment rate, draws on the steady creation of new jobs, “Despite some strong headwinds this year, the American economy has now created, in the private sector, jobs for the past 21 months in a row” (Richard W. Stevenson). Democrats are strategically highlighting the rise in jobs coupled with a declining unemployment rate as evidence of a healing economy. However, GOP candidates have reached out to potential supporters, claiming that these slight improvements do not outweigh the Obama administrations failure to substantially stimulate the economy. Mitt Romney also released a statement reading, "To me, the fact that so many millions of Americans are unemployed only highlights the urgent need for a fundamental change in the direction of our country... This is not exactly the hope and change that the American people bargained for” (Stephanie Condon).
Since the 1930’s, no president has been re-elected with an unemployment rate as high as today’s. However, if the unemployment rate continues to drop, historical precedent is in favor of the Obama administration. Unemployment peaked two years ago at a staggering 10.1% and has not been as low as 8.6% since the beginning of Obama’s presidency in March 2009. In a similar situation, Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984 after unemployment was at a high 10.8% and fell to 8.5% one year from Election Day (Richard W. Stevenson).
Unfortunately for Democratic supporters, Obama does not project a decrease in unemployment reminiscent of the 1984 Reagan election. The White House suggested that unemployment may rise back to 9% by January 2012. Consequently, an increase in joblessness will likely be perceived as a sign of irreparable backtracking under the Obama administration. As seen in 1992, President George Bush was defeated in his run for re-election as unemployment rose to 7.8% in June before falling back to 7.3% on Election Day that year (Richard W. Stevenson). Therefore, precedent suggests that voters become skeptical and apprehensive whenever economic factors become pertinent issues within an election.
Works Cited: Richard W. Stevenson. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/03/us/politics/jobless-numbers-spur-competing-political-narratives.html?ref=politics.
Stephanie Condon. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57335597-503544/gop-hammers-obama-despite-lower-unemployment-rate/.