Defying expectations, President Obama was reelected despite the fact that the U.S. economy is undergoing a very slow recovery from the Great Recession.
Economic growth this year is projected at less than 2 percent and the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, according to the latest monthly figure available before the election. A positive indicator is the rate of inflation, remaining below the 2 percent expected by the central bank.
The last meeting of the Federal Reserve expressed concern that "economic growth might not be strong enough to generate sustained improvement in labor market conditions." In other terms, economic activity is expanding, but at a moderate pace insufficient to push down the unemployment rate.
Still, with such an unemployment rate, judged elevated by the Federal Reserve, the president was reelected, which was not seen since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was reelected twice, with higher unemployment rates, in 1936 and 1940.
Something happened after the summer, because a Washington Post-ABC News poll, carried out on Aug. 22-25, revealed that as many as 72 percent of registered voters polled considered the economy as the "major factor" influencing their decision to vote in the November election.
Therefore, despite relentless and justified criticism by the opposition of the modest economic performance, in the last election, the economy was not the decisive factor.
Isaac Cohen is an international analyst and consultant, a commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, and a former director, UNECLAC Washington Office.
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