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Inside the Boiler Room: The economy and Obama's chances for re-election

Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss whether or not  President Obama can win re-election with the current state of the economy. 
Thanks to devie for the question! Keep an eye out for a chance to post questions for next week's 'Inside the Boiler Room' segments!

Video edited by NBC's Lauren Selsky, transcribed by NBC's Jordan Fraiser.
TRANSCRIPT:
MARK MURRAY: Welcome to another edition of Inside the Boiler Room.  Domenico, we end up having a question from Devie who asks "Can Obama win reelection with the current state of the economy, and if so, how?"
DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well the State of the economy is certainly why it's difficult for President Obama to win reelection, but it doesn't mean he can't win reelection.  In fact, there's probably a 50/50 proposition at this point for him to win reelection.  Why can he do it?  Well there's a couple reasons.  He has a strong base of support.  You know, there's been this narrative that, whoa liberal base is disaffected.  You hear from African American leaders like Maxine Waters and others who've said, questioning how he's talked to the African American community.  But really the reality is the numbers have shown his base of support has pretty much held steady.  When we talk about his base we talk about, you know, people who self-identify as liberals, Democrats, African Americans, Hispanics, women, the young 18-29, post-grads, people highly educated.  All those groups are still largely in favor, maybe a little slippage in some cases.  So because of that he still has a strong base of donor support -- potentially could have a million donors by the end of this quarter, certainly blown away the field when it comes to money so far.  And the other thing is, when you look at the number 270 that a candidate needs to get there, well President Obama certainly looks like he has a map that might be somewhat in his favor.  Now he's going to have to win 2 of 3 of places like Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio.  You mix and match there, he's got some numbers, but you know, you can see a path for him getting the 270 easier than some other Republican candidates in some respects.  Doesn't mean, that's why it's easier for a Democrat to have a blowout it seems nowadays than it does a Republican.
MARK MURRAY: And also, President Obama's not going to have a primary challenge.  So for the next 6-8 months he can largely be out of the story.  The New York Times had a really provocative story back in the summer where they said since FDR no one has actually won reelection with an unemployment rate of higher than 7.2%. And of course...
DOMENICO MONTANARO: That's true post-WWII.
MARK MURRAY: Right.  And 7.2% would be Obama's dream scenario.  In fact, it's probably, the best thing could probably be about 8.2, 8.3%.  And that's assuming the economy starts getting better.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: And that's on a consistent down. 
MARK MURRAY: There's one thing to add. There's a big caveat there. It's like they said since FDR the economy hasn't been in this shape it's been in since FDR.  
DOMENICO MONTANARO: Since FDR.  Right.  That's a key point. 
MARK MURRAY: And FDR won reelection in 1936, he won reelection in 1940, he won reelection in 1944.  And guess what, the economy was terrible.  In fact worse than it is now.  The one thing, though, that helped FDR in all those campaigns was that the economy was getting better.  So, it had improved from its Hoover-low, and things were getting better, and the key for President Obama to win reelection is, are things moving in the right direction.  Unemployment rate right now is 9.1%.  13 months from now, is it closer to 8?  If so, President Obama can have this message which I think would be very powerful, he would basically say things are getting better. 
DOMENICO MONTANARO: Right.
MARK MURRAY: And that would be key for them, but the most important thing is things have to start getting better.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: And that was Ronald Reagan's message in 1984, 83-84.  Because the economy was clearly moving in the right direction as Reagan was moving towards reelection.  You know, even though unemployment at certain points in Reagan's presidency were higher than where it is now, but you're right, it really has to do with the direction that things go.  
MARK MURRAY: Right.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: If it's at 9.5 in November of 2012, well, you know...
MARK MURRAY: And that's why...
DOMENICO MONTANARO: We're looking at a President Romney or Perry or whoever else. 
MARK MURRAY: That's why what's going on right now when you're looking at polls, they're a snapshot in time.  What's going to tell us what the presidential contest looks like, let's look about July of 2012.  If we see the economy is improving 2-3 hundred thousand jobs are being created every month, well look, Obama's going to be in much better shape than he is now.  If things don't improve then he's in trouble.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: And it probably doesn't have to get to 8 or 8.1.
MARK MURRAY: But in that direction.  
DOMENICO MONTANARO: But it needs to at least appear to be moving in the right direction.  
MARK MURRAY: Absolutely.  Devie that was a great question.  Thank you.