The derailing of the DNC bump

Ashley Goetz

The Democratic Party recently completed their convention where they had an array of speakers from across the nation making their pitches for why President Barack Obama deserves a second term. Apart from the attacks against Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, the speakers laid out logical arguments that did not keep the fact-checkers up all night. 

Yes, it is true that Democratic presidents have created far more jobs during the last sixty years than Republican presidents, and yes it is true that the Republican leadership in Congress has vowed to block every measure proposed by the Obama administration to help the economy in order to keep him as a one term president. The Democrats were factually coherent when they attacked the Republican Party for pursuing an economic agenda that has been pampering a select few at the expense of the “99 percent” for over thirty years. When it comes to taxes, the Republican Party follows the rationale that the president outlined during his speech: “Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!"

From John Kerry to Joe Biden, from the numerous actors, governors, congressmen, to the president himself; they all made the case as to why the nation cannot afford Romney-Ryan. Sure the economy isn’t doing as well as we would like, but the economy needs more time to recover after decades of conservative policy.

Will the people buy this argument, though?

After the conclusion of the DNC, numerous polls showed that Obama received the “convention bump,” the temporary increase in popularity, relative to the opponent, right after the coverage of the convention of the party nomination.

A Gallup poll from the last three nights of interviewing of adults, conducted Sept. 4 to 6, shows Obama with a 52 percent approval rating, the highest approval percentage reported for Obama on the Gallup tracking poll since May 2011,  just after the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The latest poll results represent a seven percentage point increase in Obama's approval rating, from 45 percent, from Gallup's previous three-day sample, conducted Sept. 1 to 3.

Although the post-convention polling shows an obvious gain for Obama, these bumps usually come down almost as fast as they rise. This, however, should not be the primary concern of the president. His main concern should be with the latest jobs report, which, although shows a slight decrease in unemployment, shows the economic instability that is still palpable in the market.

According to the last large jobs report, employers added just 96,000 jobs last month. And despite keeping their money saved, companies said they continue to hold back on hiring in the face of fragile business conditions, slowing growth globally and uncertain national policies.

This news could prove to be quite troubling for Obama’s reelection team, especially since no other president has ever gotten reelected with an unemployment rate above 8 percent since President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression.

Is this a fair conclusion for the president, though? In the psyche of the average voter, it might just be. The 1980 election set the precedent of playing the “are you better off now than you were four years ago?” card, which was a driving force behind President Reagan’s victory over one-term Democrat Jimmy Carter. When people ask themselves this question today, they may actually disagree that we are better now than under the presidency of George W. Bush. 

According to the Washington Post:

“When President Obama took office, the economy was collapsing. People were terrified. Companies were firing hundreds of thousands; the stock market was plunging. This fright has morphed into a quiet dread that the economy is stuck in a state of insecure stagnation — a dread that the government can’t cure and that will crush people’s dreams.

“Just how Americans react to this change may determine whether they feel “worse off” — and how they’ll vote in November. Are people so relieved we avoided a depression that they forgive the economy’s subsequent miserable performance as a lesser evil? Or are they so angry over Obama’s failure to engineer a strong recovery that their discontent overshadows any earlier success?”

The latter conclusion, that Obama doesn’t deserve reelection because the economic recover wasn’t as strong as we would have liked, would be unfair to reach when deciding the next president in November. As previously mentioned, the economy takes time to recover, a point that President Obama clearly had no control over. Moreover, Obama has done a lot to help improve economic conditions, although not enough in the eyes of Keynesian.

In fact, according to the economist Paul Krugman:

“The policies we actually got [from Obama] were far from adequate. Debt relief, in particular, has been a bust — and you can argue that this was, in large part, because the Obama administration never took it seriously. But, that said, Mr. Obama did push through policies — the auto bailout and the Recovery Act — that made the slump a lot less awful than it might have been. And despite Mitt Romney’s attempt to rewrite history on the bailout, the fact is that Republicans bitterly opposed both measures, as well as everything else the president has proposed.”

Was President Obama perfect when it came to the economy? Absolutely not. This was especially apparent in 2011, when he had far more of a focus upon economic debt than economic stimulation, a contradiction pointed out in Keynesian economics. Did he do enough to prevent the economy from slipping into a depression? The answer is yes. The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, also known as the “Stimulus Package,” saved and created millions of jobs while scooping the economy up during it’s apparent free-fall. The bailouts for the automotive industry kept several jobs in the United States, and allowed for more Americans to choose American cars. Other job-stimulating efforts are currently being obstructed by the Republican Party.

The DNC provided a great platform for the party to make their case for the clear economic improvements that we have seen since Obama took office and how Romney would reverse this path. Despite the bump in popularity, the troubling news about the economy may not only stifle this bump, but actually prevent Obama from winning reelection even if he deserves the victory.

Ronald Dixon welcomes comments at [email protected]