Which Path for Obama— Reagan or Bush the Elder?

Economy could propel him to re-election, or doom him
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2012 1:45 PM CST

(Newser) – The better-than-expected jobs report yesterday lifts President Obama's chances of re-election, but the Wall Street Journal points out that he's going to need more good news if history is any guide. It could go one of two ways, a la Ronald Reagan or George HW Bush. At the moment, the unemployment numbers are similar to Reagan's at the same time in his first term—today's 8.3% vs. 8% then. But, crucially, the numbers kept improving all the way through the election, and Reagan won.

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Bush's tale is the cautionary one for Obama. The economy was on the mend in his final year in office, but the recovery wasn't strong enough to help him win. Unemployment had fallen to 7.4%, but that was still 2 points higher than when he took office. Obama is in better shape: The rate has gone up only a half a point from the 7.8% he had at the time of his inauguration. Read the complete analysis here. (Read more economic recovery stories.)

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