Will “It’s The Economy, Stupid” Be The Key In 2008?

James Pethokoukis at US News & World Report postulates that a potential economic downturn could portend a Democratic victory in 2008.

It’s terrible luck for Republican candidates in 2008 that just as the Iraq war seems to be ever so slightly turning for the better, the economy seems to be taking a turn for the worse, thanks to the spreading mortgage credit crisis. The former might not be decisive enough to save the party in 2008, while the latter might be just damaging enough to do it in for sure.

…An economic downturn as the election approaches might make the Dem candidate a lock. Negative growth in the second quarter of 1960 hurt Richard Nixon, running as Ike’s successor. Likewise, a full-fledged recession in the second and third quarters of 1980 spelled doom for Jimmy Carter’s re-election bid. In both those instances, the other candidates, JFK and Ronald Reagan, respectively, were running dynamic, “Let’s Get America Moving Again” kinds of campaigns.

Pethokoukis, to his credit, notes that global economic growth, lower gas prices, and strong consumer demand may very well counter stagnating (or falling) home values and lingering effects of credit tightening. Add to that continued record low unemployment, real income growth, and low to non-existent inflation and there’s a very good case to be made that a downturn is not inevitable.

Also boding well for GOP frontrunner’s Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney is that neither is associated with the administration or Congress. If there is a downturn, even a slight one, the case can be made that Congressional Democrats (including front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) share in that responsibility with the Bush administration. The outsider GOP hopefuls won’t have to carry the baggage of votes (or missed votes) on bills directly related to the economy.

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