U.S. Presidents and U.S. Economy
The GOP touts itself as the party of job creation. But the party of which president - Democratic or Republican - creates more jobs per year, on average? REUTERS

If the 2012 U.S. presidential election were held today, in mid-May 2012, the race would be very close and President Barack Obama could easily lose to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Further, one issue on the minds of American voters, and, by extension, one issue that may determine the election is job growth -- the likelihood that unemployed Americans will find formal work again.

With the U.S. unemployment rate at a still very high 8.1 percent, to say that jobs, job growth, and finding a good-paying job have been on the minds of millions of Americans would be an understatement.

Political science research, particularly ground-breaking research in the classic theoretical study of voting behavior, The American Voter, (Campbell et al), teaches us that job growth -- and a U.S. president's ability to maintain strong job growth and keep unemployment low -- historically has been a factor in whether that president is re-elected.

Simply put, if job growth is adequate and the unemployment rate is low or falling, good things tend to result for the sitting president in the next election. The reverse, bad things.

Further, the unemployment rate trend is important. Unemployment could be high early in an election year, as it was in 1984 during President Ronald Reagan's re-election year, but if jobs are created as the year progresses and the U.S. economy is growing, Americans will stay with the policies that are succeeding and, all other factors being equal, re-elect the sitting president, as was the case in November 1984, when Reagan crushed his challenger, former Vice President Walter Mondale.

Which Party Is Better At Job Creation?

Which raises an obvious question: In the modern era starting with the President Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency in 1933, presidents from which political party created more jobs -- Democrats or Republicans?

The Republican Party claims that it is the party of pro-business, pro-growth and pro-job creating policies.

That may very well be the GOP marquee, but U.S. Labor Department data indicate otherwise: Democratic presidents have ruled over the creation of more jobs per year than Republicans.

Over 40 years, Democratic presidencies saw the creation of 73.22 million jobs, or 1.83 million per year.

The Democratic total and averages are 71.83 million jobs and 1.65 million per year, respectively, if you include the current, partial term for Obama.

Meanwhile, over 36 years Republicans presided over the creation of 34.78 million jobs, or 966,388 per year.

Listed below are the jobs created under U.S. president, based on U.S. Non-Farm Payroll data collected by the U.S. Department of Labor:

The biggest job creator? President Bill Clinton -- who presided over the creation of a staggering 22.74 million jobs during the Roaring '90s, good for an average of 2.84 million jobs per year.

Presidential Job Creation, By Administration

Franklin D. Roosevelt, D-N.Y., 1933-45

First term: +5.44 million (estimated)

Second term: +3.29 million (estimated)

Third term: +7.42 million

Partial fourth term: -460,000 jobs

FDR Total: +15.69 million (estimated total)

Harry Truman, D-Mo., 1945-53

Partial first term: +3.23 million jobs

Second term: +5.47 million jobs

Truman Total: +8.70 million jobs

Dwight Eisenhower, R-Kan., 1953-61

First term: +2.74 million jobs

Second term: +795,000 jobs

Ike Total: +3.54 million jobs

John F. Kennedy, D-Mass., 1961-63

JFK partial term: +3.57 million jobs

Lyndon Johnson, D-Texas, 1963-69

Partial term: +2.33 million jobs

Full term: +9.86 million jobs

LBJ Total: +12.18 million jobs

Richard Nixon, R-Calif., 1969-74

First term: +6.18 million

Partial term: +3 million jobs

Nixon Total: +9.18 million jobs

Gerald Ford, R-Mich., 1974-77

Partial term: +2.07 million jobs

Jimmy Carter, D-Ga., 1977-81

Term: +10.34 million jobs

Ronald Reagan, R-Calif., 1981-89

First term: +5.32 million jobs

Second term: +10.78 million jobs

Reagan Total: +16.10 million jobs

George H.W. Bush, R-Texas, 1989-93

Term: +2.59 million jobs

Bill Clinton, D-Ark., 1993-2001

First term: +11.51 million jobs

Second term: +11.24 million jobs

Clinton Total: +22.74 million jobs

George W. Bush, R-Texas, 2001-2009

First term: +7,000 jobs

Second term: +1.3 million jobs

George W. Bush Total: 1.31 million jobs

Barack Obama, D-Ill., 2009-Present

Partial term: -1.390 million jobs lost through April 2011.

Obama Total to date: -1.390 million jobs lost.