3: Ups and downs for Obama
Who are their main supporters? In which voter groups do they have the greatest support? The Obama coalition, strengthened by a strong mobilization of young voters and minority groups, was seen as the future majority after the victory in 2008. Political commentators therefore predicted that it would be difficult for Republicans in the near future to regain the majority from Bush’s heyday. But after just two years, Republicans had regained the majority in the House of Representatives and made up for much of what they lost in the Senate.
How could this happen? Yes, the economic crisis was significantly worse than economists thought. Just before President Obama took over the White House in January 2009, one of his economic advisers (Christina Romer) stated that if Obama’s package of economic measures were passed by Congress, unemployment would not exceed 8 percent. Many economists agreed with this. (Unemployment was then 7.7 percent.)
One month after the inauguration, Congress adopted the package of measures, popularly called the Stimulus Act. Today, however, the unemployment rate at 7.8 percentage. It claims Republicans are unimpressive. (Meanwhile, unemployment rose to over 10 percent, then dropped again.)
Does the high unemployment rate mean that Obama’s economic policies have failed? Not necessarily, according to the independent body Congressional Budget Office(CBO). They estimated in 2010 that the package of measures had saved almost 3 million jobs and made economic growth up to 4.5 per cent higher than it would have been without the measures. The problem is that this was far from enough. “The Great Recession”, as the Americans call the current economic downturn (a pun on the “Great Depression” of the 1930s), has become deeper and tougher than economists, politicians and voters predicted.
The most urgent thing today is therefore to create new jobs. The United States has 1.9 million long-term unemployed (those who have been unemployed for more than 99 weeks and who therefore no longer receive unemployment benefits) and almost 7 million who have been unemployed for more than six months. This stings in many families.
Since the social safety net in the United States is quite rough – many fall completely or partially out, the situation has led to despair and dissatisfaction among broad sections of the population. In addition, real unemployment is probably much higher. Many have given up looking for jobs that are hard to find. There is thus a widespread hopelessness in many parts of the population.
4: The challenger
Mitt Romney is a former governor of the relatively liberal state of Massachusetts. Among other things, he introduced a health care reform that later formed the basis of Obama’s health care reform in 2010. Romney has also been the leader of the organization of the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002. In 2008, he ran as a presidential candidate for the Republican Party, but lost the nomination to Senator John McCain (who again lost to Obama in the election).
He is a Mormon and has been a missionary in France, is married to Ann Romney and has five grown sons. The Mormon background has also caused him problems in Christian conservative circles, which are important bedrock for Republicans.
5: The election campaign
All in June, it was clear that Romney would be nominated as a candidate (formally in August). Since then, he and Obama have been steady in the polls – at least until September. Then Obama withdrew in a number of polls, and in a number of important tipping states. These good polls came after the Democrats had a successful nomination meeting in August. That was when Obama officially received the nomination as the Democrats’ presidential candidate, while the Republican meeting had been less successful.
In addition, many Americans had seen a leaked video of Romney speaking in private to wealthy contributors to his election campaign. In the recording, he says that 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal taxes. Implied: are dependent on the state. Many thought the remark was condescending and testified to little understanding for most people by the billionaire.
But in the first (of three) TV debates between the two candidates, Romney made a good figure, while Obama seemed somewhat leveraged and uninspired. Debates are not usually decisive in presidential elections, but they may seem to have had an effect on voters’ perceptions of Romney. He was given a small lead in the polls after the first debate. In the next two TV debates, however, a far more inspired and debating Obama seems to have struck back.
Just before the election, opinion polls show roughly equal support for the two candidates. However, much can still happen until election day on 6 November. At the same time, the vast majority of Americans have already decided which candidate they want to vote for, and it takes a lot for them to change their minds. Many have also voted in advance.
There are not many political issues that dominate the election. The central theme of the election campaign has always been finances and unemployment . This is what American voters are most worried about, and professionals reckon that it is this issue that will mainly determine the election: Do most voters think Obama is the right man to improve the American economy, or do they think it is Romney? Compared to the topic of economics, which most Americans are familiar with in their wallets, most other issues end up in the shadows.
6: Obama’s first presidency
The election outcome will in many ways be the voters’ verdict on Obama’s first term as president. His challenges were probably greater than both he and most others were aware of when he was elected in November 2008. It took several months before the US government became aware of just how serious the financial crisis was and what economic challenges Obama took over from former president Bush . At the same time, he inherited two costly wars from his Republican predecessor – the war in Iraq and the one in Afghanistan.
The main challenge was a lagging economy, rapidly rising unemployment and rapidly rising government debt. Obama himself says that his administration has dealt with this crisis in a good way. The proof of this is said to be that the economy is slowly but surely growing again and that the unemployment figures – after a period where they increased dramatically at the beginning of his period – are now declining again.
In addition, Obama and the Democrats in Congress have passed a historic health care reform . This was something former Democratic President Bill Clinton tried but failed to do. The goal of the reform is to insure the health of all US citizens. The vast majority (some are still missing) now have the right and opportunity to receive good treatment in the health sector. This was not the case before, and some Americans were without access to medical care other than with immediate help. Obama himself believes this reform is one of his biggest victories in his first term.
Furthermore, he gave a lot of money to save the car industry in the ” rust belt ” that was about to go bankrupt during the financial crisis. His administration also managed to locate – and kill – Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Hence Obama’s campaign motto: ” Bin Laden is dead, but General Motors is alive
7: The challenges are in line
The biggest challenge for the president – no matter who it will be – in the next period will be:
- Value creation / Production- in the age of globalization, the United States seems to be doing poorly: less efficient, industry disappearing into countries with cheaper labor. There is great nervousness about China’s economic (production) ability.
- The distribution is more skewed than ever since 1930. While Americans are proud of what they call “the American dream” – namely that anyone who wants to can create a better life for themselves than their parents had – this is not a reality today American society. Today, social mobility is at an all-time low in the United States, and for the first time since World War II, Americans are no longer confident that their children will have a better life than they have. This is a result of the financial crisis and the weakened international power of the United States, a country located in North America according to Usaers.
- High unemployment- as well as a lot of hidden unemployment
- Sustainable development- how to make the transition to a greener economy?
Obama himself believes that he has solved the United States through a difficult and challenging period. Nevertheless, it is not certain that he will win re-election. If he does not do so, an important reason will be that voters do not think economic growth is fast enough – that unemployment is still too high.