Still, Obama is bucking trends. Unemployment stands at 8.1 percent, and no president has been re-elected with unemployment above 8 percent since the Great Depression. Despite improving public attitudes, an Associated Press-GfK poll this month found 52 percent of likely voters said the country was moving in the wrong direction.
"Going from absolutely horrible to really, really bad is not exactly an endorsement of an incumbent president's record," Republican pollster Whit Ayres said. "We're a long way from measures that show the American people have confidence in the direction of the economy."
Shapiro concedes that the politics are confounding. A Washington Post poll out Tuesday showed Obama leading Romney among likely voters in Ohio, 52 to 44 percent. The president also had a slight edge in Florida, 51 to 47 percent among those most likely to vote.
"We have a president who is leading in a very convincing way despite economic numbers that suggest that he should either be losing or just hanging on, and he's not just hanging on," Shapiro said.
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