Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver is sounding a little gloomy on the economy — and how it might impact the President’s reelection effort:
In general, however, the lows have been lower than the highs have been high. At no point in the past three years has the economy shown sustained growth above the long-term trend, as it will eventually need to do to make up for the loss in productivity and jobs it suffered during the recession.
It is also the case, however, that the statistics have not been recessionary — and incumbent presidents, especially in their first term after their party takes over the White House, have typically received a lot of credit from voters, getting a pass more often than not when they have an economic story to sell.
Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have not yet declined discernibly after increasing earlier this year. His head-to-head polls against Mr. Romney have so far declined only mildly, and are better at the state level than in national tracking polls.
The concern for Mr. Obama, however, is not so much what might happen if the election were held today but what will happen in November. The economic news in recent weeks has been poor enough to suggest that if the economy finally breaks from its pattern of tepid growth in the second half of the year, it could be toward the downside.
It’s felt like the downside for a while now.
Nate’s a left-of-center guy, and also one of the sharpest and most honest analysts around. What he wrote here is exactly why we’ve watched David Axelrod doing the Flop Sweat Tango the last few weeks.