Forget the old saw that the state of the economy dictates who wins in midterm elections. There are too many exceptions. The better predictor is presidential popularity, writes Nate Silver in Esquire. The correlation between a president's Gallup rating immediately before the midterms and his party's performance is "very strong," says Silver. He figures Obama will need to sustain a 65% approval rating if the Democrats hope to avoid losing ground in the House.
"This may be disappointing news for the Republicans, who will face a relatively unpopular Democratic Congress and an economy that is unlikely to have fully recovered by 2010," notes Silver. "But President Obama—for the time being—remains very well liked. It will not suffice to get Americans to blame Nancy Pelosi for the economy’s problems; they will have to blame Obama, too."