THE housing bust finally seems to be over. Health care costs have slowed. The unemployment rate has fallen below 8 percent, much sooner than forecasters were predicting a few months ago. Consumer confidence has reached a post-recession high.
There is still no guarantee that the economy is on a stable path to recovery, given its structural problemsand the false starts of the last few years. But the odds that the recovery has finally begun have never been higher. Which is one more reason the presidential campaign, for all the groaning it has inspired from left, right and center, matters so much.
The winner is likely to be able to claim the mantle of the president who brought the country out of a long economic slump, as Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were previously able to do. Both sides know as much, too.
President Obama and his aides quietly chafe at the idea that Mitt Romney would be able to take credit for a recovery. Publicly, Mr. Obama has begun to emphasize the economic good news in recent weeks. Mr. Romney, for his part, has said he expects the economy to improve early in his presidency, not because of his policies but because of optimism about what he will do.
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