How's That Hope and Change Working Out for Obama Supporters?
Barack Obama benefited from strong support among a number of demographic groups during his 2008 presidential campaign. In an economic sense, after two-and-a-half years of his presidency, those same groups which showed him the greatest support have suffered disproportionately more than others in the United States.
It begs the question as to whether these groups will be political lemmings for Obama both in their support of his campaign and when they pull the lever in the 2012 presidential election. If their votes are based upon how their financial lives have changed since Obama took office, then they cannot reelect Obama into the White House. In other words, logic should tell them to vote against Obama next year. Consider these groups.
Barack Obama captured a staggering 96% of the African-American vote in the 2008 election, an increase even above their traditional backing of the Democrats' candidate. In addition, there was a slight uptick in voter turnout for Obama, as blacks had a 2% increase in turnout versus the 2004 presidential election. It is hard to fathom that a presidential candidate could possibly garner greater support from a demographic group than did Obama from African-Americans.
However, that support at the polling place has far from translated into a better way of life for the group as a whole.
When Obama took office in January 2009, the nation's unemployment rate stood at 7.6%. For African-Americans, as a group, the unemployment rate was 12.6%.
Fast forward two-and-a-half years and, according to the latest data released for May 2011, the nation's unemployment rate is 9.1%. The present rate of unemployment rate for blacks is 16.2%. So, while the overall unemployment rate has risen by 1.5% since Obama took office, the rate of unemployment for blacks is 3.6% higher. Seen another way, the gap between the African-American unemployment rate versus that of the entire population has widened from 5.0% when Obama took office to 7.1% as of May 2011. That is a rather huge move in a relatively short period of time.
What we've seen then is that African-Americans have had their economic state of life drop at a far greater rate versus other Americans during Obama's time in the White House, despite their overwhelming support of him in the 2008 elections. The numbers show that President Barack Obama has done nothing for the economic well-being of the African-American demographic group.
For him to capture a similar level of this group's votes in 2012 would be indicative of the group simply ignoring how their financial status has declined disproportionately more than the overall population under Obama's fiscal policies.
This group was another strong supporter of Barack Obama to become President back in 2008. His message of hope and change resonated with the college crowd and among those just starting their careers. In fact, turnout among those 18-24 years of age rose slightly to 49% in the 2008 elections versus 47% in 2004. Exit poll data from 2008 show Obama enjoyed a 66% approval rating for the 18-29 year-old demographic group.
Unfortunately for this group, economic opportunities have become more and more scarce during Obama's presidency. According to a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute, for calendar year 2010, the unemployment rate for workers 16-24 years of age averaged 18.4% verses a rate of 9.6% for the overall population.
The same report states, "...the class of 2011 will likely face the highest unemployment rate for young college graduates since the Great Recession began."
The policies of the very man this demographic group supported has caused many of them to be either underemployed or unemployed, while also now burdened with thousands and thousands of dollars in college loans, in many cases.
Low Income Families
Lower income Americans offered strong support for Barack Obama. More than 70% of voters who earned less than $15,000 per year punched their card for Obama, while those whose earnings were $15,000-$30,000 voted for Obama at a clip better than 60%. Better than 50% of those earning $30,000-$50,000 also supported Obama for the Oval Office.
Yet, these same individuals have found life under Obama to be rather difficult. When Barack Obama assumed the position of President of the United States, the average price of gasoline was $1.81/gallon. Going into the past weekend, the average price nationwide was $3.72/gallon. That's a mere 106% price increase under Obama.
Energy prices, as a proportion of income, naturally impact lower income families more than middle class or upper class families. We've also seen a substantial increase in food prices, including corn and wheat, which again impact the lower income group more than the overall population.
In fact, Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke recently indicated that lower income Americans were being hit harder by the economy as he showed that lower income Americans continue to suffer disproportionately higher unemployment than middle and upper class Americans.
Three Groups: African-Americans, College/Young Professionals, and Low Income Families. All have seen disproportionately more economic challenges than the general population during Obama's term in office. If the economy is their top issue, then they cannot support the man who has made their lives worse since he took office.
Chad Stafko is a writer and political consultant living in the Midwest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.