I talked to a bunch of economists and political scientists who say that Obama's got a tough road to re-election, and he's likely to lose if the economy doesn't show some serious signs of improvement:
Grim forecasts aside, Obama has two important advantages: He retains levels of base approval higher than presidents facing bad economies usually do, and many Americans still blame Bush for the recession. Come election time, though, voters may simply decide that even if the recession isn’t Obama’s fault, he still failed to get us out of it. The presidency is not graded on a curve. Even assuming Republican intransigence and obstruction have given Obama the most challenging political landscape ever for a Democratic president, what matters is whether voters feel like he did what he was elected to do: Bring the American economy back from the brink.
“Voters can be especially responsive to growth right before an election,” says Nyhan. “It’s certainly possible, even if you have poor economic performance, to get lucky and have good growth in your election year.”
Luck, unfortunately, isn’t much of a plan.
In his press conference today, Obama pressed for an extension of unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut. The sad part is that even if he gets both, that'll mostly just stop things from getting worse.