That’s according to Sean Trende at RCP:
Let’s first use CBO’s estimate of 4 percent growth. This is probably on the high side (CBO has been forecasting a surge in GDP just around the corner for five years now) so we’ll asterisk it as a high-end probability. President Obama’s job approval rating is -10.8 percent today. If we plug these two variables into Time for Change Classic, it suggests that Republicans should be favored to win by about three points: 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent.
But, you say, with 4 percent growth, Obama is unlikely to remain at -10.8 percent approval. Fair enough. But even if we move him up to a net-neutral job approval, the models forecast a narrow Democratic loss, 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent. Obama would have to reach a net job approval of +6 before the model would forecast the Democrat to win (narrowly). Obama has accomplished this four times in his six years in office: During his two post-election “honeymoons,” after the shooting of Gabby Giffords, and after killing Osama bin Laden. If he ties his post-2009 best of +12 percent net approval, the model would favor the Democrat by a point.
But what if the Fed forecast of 2.6-to-3 percent growth is more accurate? At 2.8 percent growth and using Obama’s current job approval, the model forecasts a Democratic loss of 4.6 points; at neutrality it forecasts a Democratic loss of 2.4 points, and even improving to a +12 percent net approval rating would suggest a very narrow Democratic win (.198 points, to be exact).
As always, don’t get cocky.