At least once every month between now and the gen­eral elec­tion, we exam­ine the reëlec­tion land­scape for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. As we progress through the next year, the fre­quency will almost cer­tainly increase.

Each time, we take a look at the var­i­ous fac­tors that typ­i­cally influ­ence elec­tion out­comes, and com­pare them to the pre­vi­ous month.

Let’s look at how things are shak­ing out this month.

Polls

As of Tues­day this week, the Real Clear Pol­i­tics aver­age had his approval/​disapproval rat­ing with a −8.2 point spread. This is a one-​​point fall from last month, though the over­all trend has been flat.

The Right Track/​Wrong Track polls have also been pretty much flat; the spread shrank by 1.8 points to −54.0. Gen­er­ally, num­bers this low are indica­tive of a change in the party in power. Con­gress con­tin­ues to wal­low deep in the cel­lar; this month, the spread shrank by mere 0.2 points to −69.6. The long-​​term Con­gres­sional trend has been bluer for the sec­ond half of 2011, with Democ­rats hav­ing a thin 1.2 per­cent lead in the generic poll. And Obama con­tin­ues to poll bet­ter than Con­gress. In other words, the coun­try is over­all weakly lean­ing toward the Democ­rats, which does work in Obama’s favor, though barely.

Intrade has Obama at a 50.1 per­cent chance of reëlec­tion, up a half point from last month. Obama’s posi­tion improved slightly for the sec­ond month in a row. He con­tin­ues to be sta­tis­ti­cally tied with Mitt Rom­ney in the head-​​to-​​head polls, as he has been for pretty much the entire year. He polls well above pri­mary poll leader Newt Gin­grich, though.

This month was mixed enough in this cat­e­gory to war­rant a gray ball.

The Com­pe­ti­tion

Last month’s New Kid, Her­man Cain, has been replaced with this month’s model, Newt Gin­grich. Gin­grich has a com­mand­ing lead nation­ally, as well as in the key early states of Iowa, South Car­olina, and Florida.

All of the other can­di­dates are deeply rooted in sin­gle digit territory.

Rom­ney has long been the can­di­date who polls best against Obama, but now is well behind Gin­grich for the nom­i­na­tion. If Rom­ney had the nom­i­na­tion today, and the gen­eral elec­tion were to hap­pen today, polls indi­cate that it would be a close match, at least in the national pop­u­lar vote. If it’s Gin­grich, Obama’s likely to get four more years.

Since Obama is sta­tis­ti­cally tied with Rom­ney but com­fort­ably ahead against Gin­grich, this one gets the green arrow.

The Econ­omy

The past month shows encour­ag­ing signs.

Unem­ploy­ment reports sug­gest improve­ment, hav­ing droped a half per­cent to 8.6 per­cent. While the stock mar­ket has gyrated wildly of late, it’s been far more based on spec­u­la­tion over the future of Euro­pean debt than of short-​​term eco­nomic activ­ity. That makes the stock market’s move­ments a worse indi­ca­tor than usual for pre­dict­ing future employ­ment activity.

As fur­ther evi­dence of the use­less­ness of the Dow in prox­y­ing cur­rent eco­nomic activ­ity, look at oil prices. Typ­i­cally, they rise when there is an increase in eco­nomic activ­ity. West Texas Inter­me­di­ate crude is trad­ing at about $100, the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive month of an 11 per­cent rise. Brent crude (rep­re­sent­ing the Euro­pean mar­ket) has fallen slightly over the same period. Together, they sug­gest that the United States econ­omy is improving.

This is the first month in a long time where the major indi­ca­tors point in the same direc­tion. Bet­ter yet, they point up. Green arrow this month.

Other Fac­tors

The debt supercommittee’s fail­ure made Con­gres­sional Democ­rats look bad, and made Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans look worse. The con­tin­ued revolv­ing door of NotRom­neys has made Repub­li­can Pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates look bad, too. There haven’t really been any neg­a­tive Obama sto­ries this past month. Over­all, this is also a green arrow category.

The Trends

Here’s how things look overall.

Area Effect  Change from Last Month
Polls
The Com­pe­ti­tion
The Econ­omy
Other Fac­tors

Con­clu­sion

This is two months in a row of things look­ing up for Obama. Obama’s cer­tainly nowhere near assured reëlec­tion, but he’s mov­ing the right direc­tion from an already mar­gin­ally pos­i­tive start­ing point.