Editor's note: John Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is the author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America."
(CNN) - Is President Barack Obama running against the GOP or the GDP?
In exactly one year - November 6, 2012 - we'll be lining up at polling places to cast our votes for the next president. How much of that decision will be determined by economic data and poll numbers?
Some of the smartest political pros believe you can gauge a president's chances of re-election by looking at just a couple of key indicators - job approval, unemployment and growth in gross domestic product. Plug in the data and you get the election outcome - pure, unsentimental and simple.
To test this theory, I compared Obama's standing right now with those of recent past presidents one year before the re-election vote. Here's what I found:
There is no reason for overconfidence at Obama election headquarters - the man is presiding over a historically bad economy. But his popularity numbers could be worse, and a lot can change in a year. The most important factor is the momentum heading into Election Day - and yes, the opponent matters.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with