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Lucky or Good? The Truth About the Obama Recovery

To win reelection, Barack Obama can't just persuade voters the economy is improving. He has to make them believe he's the reason why
Lucky or Good? The Truth About the Obama Recovery
Photograph by Ben Baker/Redux

On March 9, President Barack Obama flew to Petersburg, Va., to tour a Rolls-Royce aircraft engine plant. He’d been to Petersburg before as a candidate, when he stopped his campaign bus to grab lunch at a burger joint. That was in 2008, when he could still blame someone else for the misfortunes of the people he met inside.

On this visit, the president was long on optimism and short on promises, despite all the recent good news about the economy. That morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 227,000 jobs had been created in February, capping the best six months of job growth since 2006. The stock market had doubled over the past three years. Unemployment was falling. But Obama took care not to boast. The economy has gotten off to a good start each of the past two years, only to slump in the summer, and in Petersburg, Obama cited the favorable jobs report only in passing. “Day by day, we’re restoring this economy from crisis,” he said. “But we can’t stop there.”