So You’re Saying There’s A Chance

Sides calculates that Democrats have a 1% chance of retaking the House:

This is a testament to the fact that current conditions in the country, and the presence of so many Republican incumbents, make it hard for the Democrats to pick up many seats. In order for that forecast to change measurably in the Democrats’ favor, the economy needs to grow more rapidly or President Obama needs to become more popular, or both. A few more Republican retirements and strong Democratic challengers wouldn’t hurt, either. …

[A]s far as the House is concerned, 2014 is shaping up to be a status quo election.  National conditions just aren’t that favorable to Democrats right now, at least when placed in historical context. If those conditions become more favorable, you’ll see seats become more competitive, funders on one side get excited, better challengers start to emerge, and so on.

The latest, surprisingly good GDP figures make the fundamentals look slightly more favorable. Similarly, Bouie focuses on the economy’s performance when pondering Obama’s legacy:

Obama’s problem, more than anything, is the weak economy. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine an alternate universe (an Earth–2, as it were) where brisk growth and low unemployment gave Obama strong approval ratings, even if nothing else changed about the details of his 2013. In terms of public opinion, a healthy economy does a lot to shield Obama from discontent over everything from the NSA to the problems with Healthcare.gov. Indeed, if not for the fact that this has been a relatively robust year for economic growth—2013 is on track to be the strongest year for job growth since 2005—Obama would be even less popular than he is now.

Which is to say that, if you want a sense of how Obama will end his tenure, look to the economy. If people have jobs, and feel secure, then Obama will leave office like Clinton—popular and well-regarded. But if the sluggish status quo persists, then the candidate of “hope and change” will likely leave as divisive as his predecessor.