Presidential approval itself depends on other factors, particularly the economy. Blumenthal notes, "When the economy's bad, presidential approval is low, and the 'out' parties tend to do better. Those things are all related." With Obama's approval rating in the mid-40s and unemployment nearing ten percent, these figures point to a good election year for Republicans.
Even with many indicators pointing in the same direction, prognosticating remains an uncertain science. Rasmussen emphasizes that presidential approval ratings and generic ballot poll results are only "general indicators of mood." He continues, "Anybody who wants to try and delve deeper and say you can take these broad indicators and project precisely how many seats somebody will gain or lose is missing the point."