No American president ever has won re-election with the type of bad economic statistics Barack Obama faces today. But polls suggest our 44th president has a great shot of spending another four years in the Oval Office.

What gives? Mark Steyn offers some thoughts in the latest National Review.

The conventional line is that this election is a referendum on Obama. But it’s also, as Jay Nordlinger wrote, a test of the people. In advanced Western societies spending themselves into oblivion, the political class has looted the future to bribe the present and the electorate has largely gone along with it. The question for voters now is a very simple one: Can they get real before it’s over? …

… The Dems have made a calculation. They’ve bet that the electorate accepts the first part of the Republican critique — times are bum and getting bummer (to quote Gus Kahn in “Ain’t We Got Fun”) — but not the second part: that the antidote to the lousy Obama economy is Romney-style economic dynamism. In a land where Americans in their late 20s have moved back in with their parents and Americans in their early 50s have gone on permanent disability, more and more people have given up on any hope of change. To the old question “Are you better off than you were four years ago”” there are millions who answer “No” — but that’s all the more reason to stick with the party of mass dependency and supersized food-stamp programs. In other words, what conservatives think of as Obama’s “failure” — the moribund economy, flatline jobs market, underwater housing, general sclerosis — the Democrats see as a wildly successful expansion of the base. Or as Hilaire Belloc put it, “Always keep a-hold of Nurse/For fear of finding something worse.”