The Difference Between Obama and Truman

I have a new column at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball on why Harry Truman’s 1948 campaign against the “Do-Nothing Congress” may be a misleading model for President Obama:

[T]he dramatic narrative of Truman’s victory doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. As University at Buffalo, SUNY political scientist James Campbell pointed out in 2004 (gated), Truman’s comeback was fueled by “sizzling” growth in the year before the election (the time when voters tend to most strongly reward economic improvement)…

This well-timed surge in economic growth is likely to have played an important role in the success of Truman’s campaign. By contrast, the International Monetary Fund just downgraded its forecast for US economic growth in 2011 and 2012 to 1.5% and 1.8%, respectively.

The column, which updates a 2010 post on this blog, directly contrasts economic growth under Truman in the six quarters before the election with the forecasts for the equivalent period under Obama. The difference is dramatic. Read it to find out more.

[Cross-posted at]

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Brendan Nyhan

Brendan Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College.