It’s now 2016, the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency. A few years ago, prognosticators were very confident about what would happen to America by now because of Obama’s reelection. Let’s check in and see how their predictions turned out:
1. Gas was supposed to cost $6.05 per gallon.
In March 2012, on the floor of the United States Senate, Mike Lee (R-UT) predicted that if Obama was reelected gas would cost $6.05 per gallon by the start 2015. Lee said that gas prices would rise 5 cents for every month Obama was in office, ultimately reaching $6.60 per gallon.
U.S. Senate : CSPAN2 : March 7, 2012 9:00am-12:00pm EST : Free Streaming : Internet ArchiveNews/Business.archive.orgLee was not alone. Newt Gingrich, running for the GOP nomination, predicted that if Obama was reelected he would push gas to “$10 a gallon.” Gingrich said he would reduce gas prices dramatically by reversing Obama’s energy policies. Gingrich flanked himself with campaign signs promising $2.50 gas if he was elected.
Today, the nationwide average for a gallon of gas is $2.00.
Some of the reasons for the decline in gas prices were beyond Obama’s control — including weak international demand and OPEC’s failure to reduce supply. Also driving prices lower was increased gas production in the U.S., which has doubled over the last 6 years. The policies that Lee, Gingrich and others criticized — the rejection of Keystone XL pipeline, more EPA regulation and limiting drilling on public land — have not gotten in the way of historically low prices.
2. Unemployment was supposed to be stuck at over 8%
In September 2012, Mitt Romney predicted that if Obama is reelected “you’re going to see chronic high unemployment continue four years or longer.” At the time, the unemployment rate was 8.1% and had been between 8.1% and 8.3% for the entire year.
What would breaking out of “chronic high unemployment” look like in a Romney presidency? Romney pledged that, if elected, he could bring the unemployment rate down to 6% by January 2017.
3. The stock market was supposed to crash
Immediately after Obama won reelection in November 2012, many commenters predicted that the stock market was toast.
The stock market and US dollar are both plunging today. Welcome to @BarackObama’s second term.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2012
Charles Bilderman, the author of the “Intelligent Investing” column at Forbes, wrote that the “market selloff after Obama’s re-election [was] no accident,” predicting “stocks are dropping with no bottom in sight.” Bilderman said that the policies the Obama administration would pursue in his second term would “crash stocks.”
On Bloomberg TV, investor Marc Faber predicted that, because of Obama’s reelection, the stock market would drop at least 20%. According to Faber, “Republicans understand the problem of excessive debt better than Mr. Obama who basically doesn’t care about piling up debt.” Faber joked that investors seeking to protect their assets should “buy themselves a machine gun.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average currently stands at 17,425.03 and, despite a downturn in 2015, is up over 27% since Obama was reelected.
4. The entire U.S. economy was supposed to collapse
Rush Limbaugh predicted that “the country’s economy is going to collapse if Obama is re-elected.” Limbaugh was confident in his prediction: “There’s no if about this. And it’s gonna be ugly. It’s gonna be gut wrenching, but it will happen.”
The economic freefall would begin, according to Limbaugh, because “California is going to declare bankruptcy” and Obama would force states like Texas to “bail them out.” California currently has a $4 billion budget surplus.
Limbaugh added, “I know mathematics, and I know economics. I know history. I know socialism, statism, Marxism, I know where it goes. I know what happens at the end of it.”
Limbaugh said the economic apocalypse could take “a year and a half, two years, three years.” It’s been three years and two months since Limbaugh’s prediction.
The U.S. economy grew at a respectable 2% in the 3rd quarter of 2014, following 3.9% growth in the second quarter.
Although these dire economic predictions have proven false, it doesn’t mean there aren’t real, persistent problems with the U.S. economy. Most critically, wage growth for American workers remains anemic. With a tightening labor market, however, some economists are predicting a better 2016.
This post is based on a similar analysis from 2015 and has been revised and updated.