What Will 2016 Political Landscape Look Like? USA Today Has No Clue

Debate podiums, 2011

USA Today illustrates a comparison of the 2016 election with the 2008 election with an image from 2011.

Under the headline “1,000 Days Out: Calmer Landscape for ’16 Race,” USA Today‘s Susan Page (2/10/14) begins:

The last time there was an open race for the White House, in 2008, the question could have been why anybody would want the job. The economy was sinking into the worst crisis since the Great Depression.

Whereas today things look different:

Amid early jockeying for the 2016 election–precisely 1,000 days away as of Wednesday–presidential hopefuls face what is shaping up to be a very different landscape.

The economy is recovering steadily, if slowly. Unemployment, while still troubling, is declining–to 6.6 percent last month, the lowest since October 2008. The federal budget deficit has dropped from its peak by nearly two-thirds despite the failure to reach a long-sought Grand Bargain. The auto industry has regained its footing, and big banks no longer seem threatened with collapse.

Of course,  a thousand days before the 2008 election, the economic crisis that started in 2007 hadn’t happened yet. Unemployment was at 4.7 percent. The Congressional Budget Office was projecting a 2006 deficit of $337 billion–less than a quarter of what it would be in three years.

Susan Page

USA Today’s Susan Page

That the actual circumstances under which candidates ran for office in 2008 didn’t at all resemble the situation in early 2006 shows the futility of trying to pontificate about elections almost three years before they happen. But that isn’t going to stop the political press corps.

In fact, Page is already predicting the policies the next president will have to pursue. Surprise! They involve cutting Social Security:

Policymakers have failed to seal a deal on the mix of politically difficult steps that a fix is likely to involve: increasing taxes, curbing benefits, raising the retirement age. The next president presumably will no longer have the option of delay.

It’s going to be a long thousand days.



About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.