White House Press Secretary Jay Carney suggested that President Obama could win re-election even if the national unemployment rate is above 8 percent, citing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as an example.
During the White House press briefing Monday, Carney was reminded by a reporter that “no President has gotten reelected with an unemployment rate this high,” citing 8.3 percent unemployment for the month of July.
“It’s a random factoid that’s thrown out a lot because of the limited empirical pool here,” Carney replied, pointing out that President Roosevelt was reelected with an unemployment rate higher that eight percent.
“I think that’s an instructive comparison, because, as you all know, this President came into office during the worst economic crisis since Franklin Roosevelt was in power,” Carney added.
Comparing the unemployment rates during the 1930s directly to the current rates today is difficult, as the unemployment numbers in the 1930′s used a different data-set.
But when Roosevelt was re-elected, he was generally seen as making things better in the midst of the Great Depression, as unemployment numbers at that time showed about a 10 point improvement.
Unemployment numbers under Obama, on the other hand, have only improved by a couple of points. The highest unemployment rate under Obama was 10 percent in October of 2009 while the lowest percentage was 8.1 percent, in April 2012. (Excluding the low 7.8 percent rate in January 2009 when Obama was inaugurated)
As the election draws nearer, more Democrats will tout Obama as the next FDR. But the numbers just don’t add up.