“The economy, stupid” is a phrase coined by James Carville in 1992.
It is often quoted from a televised quip by Carville as “It’s the economy, stupid.” Carville was a strategist in Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign against incumbent George H. W. Bush. His phrase was directed at the campaign’s workers and intended as one of three messages for them to focus on. (The less-memorable others were “Change vs. more of the same” and “Don’t forget health care.”)
Clinton's campaign advantageously used the then-prevailing recession in the United States as one of the campaign's means to successfully unseat George H. W. Bush. In March 1991, days after the ground war in Kuwait, 90% of polled Americans approved of President Bush's job performance. Later the next year, Americans' opinions had turned sharply; 64% of polled Americans disapproved of Bush's job performance in August 1992. On top of all that, Ross Perot ran as a third party candidate, and captured almost 19% of the vote.
In December of 1992, the unemployment rate was 7.4%. As of today, it's 10% - and likely to go higher.
In December 1991, GDP growth was -1%, but had recovered to 3.5% by December of 1992. GDP growth for this year (2020) is likely to be closer to zero. It was 2.1% in the 4th quarter of 2019, but had slowed to 1.5% in the first quarter of 2020, and will definitely go down from there.
George H.W. Bush's lowest approval rating was 29% in July of 1992.
Trump's lowest approval rating, 36.5%, happened in December of 2017. Trump's highest approval rating was 47.8% on inauguration day, and has gone down from there.
Another example of how a bad economy can torpedo a re-election bid is the 1980 presidential race. The inflation rate was 12.5%, GDP growth was -.3%, we suffered through another oil embargo in 1979, AND the Iranians were still holding our embassy staff captive in Tehran.
Jimmy never had a chance.
If you think that history repeats itself (and it does) it's highly unlikely that Trump will get re-elected.
According to polling aggregator Real Clear Politics, Biden holds an average lead of 6.1 points over Trump in national polls conducted between March 11 and Tuesday, April 7.
Biden's lead across various national polls ranges from a 10-point margin over Trump in a Harvard-Harris poll conducted between March 24 and March 26, to just three points separating the two in a Monmouth University poll from the week before.
On the website Daily Kos, Markos Noulitsas had a few encouraging comments about the election. Here's a few key paragraphs:
" Seven states will decide this election. And if I sound like a broken record, it’s because I want everyone to have these as well-memorized as I do: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. (The district-based electoral votes in Maine and Nebraska will also matter a huge deal. But it’s hard to say “seven states and two districts.” This system is stupid and confusing enough as it is.)
So, seven states. That doesn’t mean other states don’t “matter”—they matter up and down the ballot. We must win everywhere. But for purposes of the presidential election, if Trump wins Minnesota or New Hampshire, he’s already won the other seven states. And if Biden wins Texas or Ohio or Iowa, he’s already won those other seven states.
So how do Trump approvals look in the states that will decide the presidential election? Arizona (44-54), Florida (46-51), Georgia (47-50), Michigan (44-53), North Carolina (44-54), Pennsylvania (46-51), and Wisconsin (46-51)."