Income growth was slow through most of 2012, and prospective voters were correspondingly pessimistic about the state of the economy. So how was Barack Obama reelected?
An important part of the answer is that perceptions of the economy became significantly less pessimistic in the fall than they had been in the summer—a shift coinciding with the beginning of a rebound in the actual income growth rate in September. This upturn in economic perceptions probably boosted Obama’s popular vote margin by about three percentage points—suggesting that an election held a few months sooner might have been a good deal closer. [cont.]
Larry Bartels, Vanderbilt (The Monkey Cage)