President Obama is running scared from the Reagan Metric

"Are you better off than you were four years ago?" seems like a simple question. But for Team Obama, it's clearly terrifying

Edward Morrissey

Give Barack Obama and the Democrats credit. In 2008, Obama won election as the candidate of Hope and Change — while being the first major-party nominee to eschew federal campaign spending limits since Watergate. Now, in 2012, Obama wants to be the first incumbent president to avoid answering the ingenious question devised by Ronald Reagan, which devastated Jimmy Carter's attempt to win a second term in office. Call it the Reagan Metric: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Democrats fell all over themselves this weekend when asked the most predictable question in presidential politics. David Axelrod and David Plouffe refused to give a direct answer when challenged on Sunday morning talk shows. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley had the misfortune of being a little too honest on CBS' Face the Nation. When Bob Schieffer asked if O'Malley could honestly claim that voters were better off after four years, the Democratic governor responded, "No, but that's not the question for this election." By Monday, O'Malley had reversed himself and claimed that the positive jobs growth over the last 38 months shows that Americans are better off. "Clearly we're moving forward, we're creating jobs, unemployment is down, job creation is up," O'Malley claimed on CNN's Starting Point. "And that job creation would not happen without the president's leadership."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Edward Morrissey

Edward Morrissey has been writing about politics since 2003 in his blog, Captain's Quarters, and now writes for His columns have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Post, The New York Sun, the Washington Times, and other newspapers. Morrissey has a daily Internet talk show on politics and culture at Hot Air. Since 2004, Morrissey has had a weekend talk radio show in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and often fills in as a guest on Salem Radio Network's nationally-syndicated shows. He lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, and his two granddaughters. Morrissey's new book, GOING RED, will be published by Crown Forum on April 5, 2016.