GDP and Presidential Elections: 2 Pct Worked for Reagan’s Party

Photograph by Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg

The Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California.

The nation’s gross domestic product grew by 2 percent in the last quarter.

The Obama White House hailed this as “further evidence that the economy is moving in the right direction” — Council  of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger’s words in a blog-posting.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney called it disappointing — Obama inherited an economic problem, Romney said campaigning in Ohio today, but  “what he did with what he inherited made the problem worse.”

Bloomberg data show that good growth generally favors the incumbent in a re-election campaign, or the candidate of the incumbent’s party:

Obama’s numbers: GDP grew by 1.3 percent in the second quarter of 2012, and 2 percent in the third quarter.

The recent record of GDP and elections:

— GDP grew 1.3 percent in Republican George W. Bush’s second quarter of 2008, and fell by 3.7 percent in his third quarter. Obama won the White House in a contest with Republican John McCain.

— GDP grew by 2.6 percent in Bush’s second quarter of 2004, and 3 percent in his third quarter. Bush beat Democrat John Kerry.

— GDP grew by 8 percent in Democrat Bill Clinton’s second quarter of  2000, and by 0.3 percent in his third quarter. Vice President Al Gore lost to Bush.

— GDP grew by 7.1 percent in Clinton’s second quarter of 1996, and 3.5 percent in his third quarter. Clinton beat Bob Dole.

—  GDP grew by 4.3 percent in Republican George H.W. Bush’s second quarter of 1992, and by 4.2 percent in his third quarter. He lost to Clinton.

— GDP grew by 5.2 percent in Republican Ronald Reagan’s second quarter of 1988, and by 2.1 percent in his third quarter. His vice president, the first Bush, beat Democrat Michael Dukakis.

Two percent was good enough for Reagan’s party in 1988.

Nov. 6 will tell whether it’s good enough for Obama’s in 2012.

with thanks to Bloomberg’s Chris Middleton for the data.

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