It’s been non-stop for almost eight years now. GOP politicians and pundits have made it their personal mission to convince everyone in the country that President Obama’s leadership has driven the country straight into the ground. This is in spite of extensive reporting that reveals significant and meaningful recovery has happened for the United States in the last eight years. Despite these facts, the politically convenient lies just stick around and keep getting repeated.
Gallup data released on Tuesday just proves how hopelessly deluded the GOP has become under the Obama administration. And it puts an even more practical, human face on the topic than simple economic reports.
Happiness at an All-Time High
Since Obama took office in 2009, the number of Americans who self-identified as “thriving” in their lives has increased by almost 4 percentage points. This is a huge jump from the final year of the Bush administration, where only 48.9 percent of people self-applied the moniker.
Gallup and their partner Healthways classify Americans as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering,” according to how they rate their present and future lives on a 10-point scale. Those who rate their present life as a seven or higher and rate their future lives as an eight or higher are considered to be “thriving.”
The 48.9 percent of people thriving during the final year of the George W. Bush administration improved extremely quickly after Bush was out of office. By the second year of the Obama Presidency in 2010, the number of thriving Americans jumped up to 53.2 percent. It stayed in that bracket up through 2013, only to break the 54 percent mark in 2014, and cross 55 percent in 2015. These quality-of-life evaluations are actually on course to set another record in 2016.
Good News for Everyone
Although the demographic increases in happiness aren’t uniformly spread across ethnic groups, the Gallup data reveals that every major ethnic demographic has experienced an increase in quality of life. Blacks saw the largest increase in quality of life between 2008 and 2010, with a nearly 13 percent improvement in the number of people reporting “thriving” lifestyles. This data could be explained by the optimism many African-Americans felt at having a black President in office, even though Obama had done little at that point to directly impact their lives. However, in Obama’s second term, the number of blacks in the “thriving” category had dipped significantly. African-Americans are currently the demographic group with the lowest percentage of cases in the “thriving” category.
In Obama’s first two years, whites, Asians, and Hispanics all saw dramatic improvements in lifestyle as well. Whites have seen a slow, steady increase over the last eight years, while the rise in happiness among Hispanics has been choppier, but still consistent. Asians have consistently topped the list as the ethnic group most likely to report “thriving.”
What Does It Mean?
The improvements at the beginning of Obama’s term coincided with an economic rebound from the Great Recession, and were partially offset by Republicans who reported lower numbers for the quality of their future and present. But the second Obama term was marked by strides among all demographic groups, including white Republicans. What’s more, these gains also coincided with record lows for other indicators of poor quality of life. For example, food instability and healthcare insecurity both experienced large declines among Americans in Obama’s second term.
The country might not be doing perfectly, but the myth of Obama’s failure as a President is one that can’t die quickly enough.
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