Economy in `Reverse’: Romney Aide

Photograph by David Goldman/AP Photo

Shoppers browse a selection of ovens on display at Lowe's store in Atlanta.

“The economy is not just down-shifting,” says Mitt Romney’s adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom. “It is slipping into reverse.”

Both President Barack Obama — campaigning in Florida and Virginia today — and Republican Romney — campaigning in Colorado — are courting voters in swing states with appeals on their visions for the economy.

Slipping into reverse is serious stuff.

Reverse suggests a turnaround in gross domestic product — that dirty R word that involves two quarters sliding.

The U.S. economy grew at 1 .5 percent annual rate from April through June, following growth at a 2 percent rate during the first quarter of the year. While that’s a relative slowdown, it’s not quite reverse.

Notably, one economic model suggests that Obama can withstand this sort of growth, politically.

“It puts Obama just barely above the break-even point,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta and developer of a forecasting model based on second-quarter GDP and polling data. “Mainly it tells me we’re heading to a very close election and Obama is a slight favorite.”

With 1.5 percent growth in the second quarter, Abramowitz’s model projects that Obama will receive 50.5 percent of the popular vote in November and has a two-thirds probability of winning. The model doesn’t project the Electoral College outcome, and it is possible for candidate to win the popular vote without an electoral-vote victory, as occurred in the 2000 contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

Fehrnstrom, who issued his campaign’s theme this morning in a conference call with reporters as Romney prepared to campaign in Colorado, probably has his own models.

He’s the one who brought an Etch A Sketch to the campaign.

John McCormick, covering the Romney campaign in Colorado today, contributed. 

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