So. The economy's tanking, banks are failing, we're heading into a recession, an unpopular president is finishing his 2nd disastrous term with historic disapproval ratings, and we're fighting overseas. There must be a historical precedent, right? Right? Plenty of professional pundit people seem to think so! But which year is it? 1932? 1992? 1968?? Let's examine the facts: 1932 Sez Who? Writing in The Nation (natch) , "Superintendent" Charmers Johnson sez this year just might be a "'realigning election,' of which there have been only two during the past century—the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 and of Richard Nixon in 1968." Why now? "First, the weakness (and age) of the Republican candidate may perhaps indicate that the Party itself is truly at the end of a forty-year cycle of power. Second, of course, is the meltdown, even possibly implosion, of the US economy on the Republican watch (specifically, on that of George W. Bush, the least popular president in memory, as measured by recent opinion polls)..... Third, there has been a noticeable trend in shifting party affiliations in which the Democrats are gaining membership as the Republicans are losing it, especially in key battleground states like Pennsylvania...." (And fifth: the youngs!) Is Is True? Not really! Because back then , the Dems rode the depression through countless elections and Roosevelt remained popular! If things suck more in 2012 than they do now, Obama will be blamed. 1992 Sez Who? Robert Reich, former secretary of labor, writing in the New York Times, says "January 2009 is starting to look a lot like January 1993." Why Now? "Then, the federal deficit was running at roughly $300 billion a year, or about 5 percent of gross domestic product, way too high for comfort. By contrast, the deficit for the 2009 fiscal year is now projected to be $410 billion, or about 3.3 percent of gross domestic product." Uh, ok. Is It True? Not really! Back then we'd had two terms of a mostly popular Republican followed by one disastrous term of an unpopular Republican who was considered out of touch. This is the "John McCain wins this year" option. 1976 Sez Who? Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, blogging for the Wall Street Journal , says, "one could see this year’s scenario as closer to 1976, when a previously unknown Democratic candidate, Jimmy Carter, promising a breath of fresh air in the White House, seized on the public clamor for change and won the presidency." Why Now? "The public mood in 1976, less than two years after Republican Richard Nixon resigned the presidency due to Watergate, and with the economy hurting due to what was then skyrocketing gasoline prices, was almost as sour as today." And! "Mr. Carter, a former one-term governor of Georgia offered a candidacy that conceded a lack of Washington experience, much like Sen. Obama. And, as Sen. Obama so far this year, Mr. Carter prospered because the national mood valued change over all else." Is It True? You know, it might be! 1988 Sez Who? Peter Brown, again! Why Now? Two-term Republican ends on a not-too-popular note, Dems nominate a proud liberal, economy not looking hot. Is It True? Probably not, because Obama's looking way better than Dukakis. But! Worst Case Scenario It is 1988 redux. Only Obama is Bush senior. Remember, he's an elitist who's out of touch too! He inherits a miserable economy and can't right the ship fast enough. A brief war—or killing Bin Laden—might make him briefly, hugely popular. But a couple years from now, if things haven't improved, he gets the blame, as we said. He's basically positoined perfectly for a folsky populist Souterner to swoop in and steal the nation's heart. In other words, welcome President Huckabee! Best Case Scenario It's 1952 redux! We're mired in a pointless foreign war! Another incredibly unpopular two-term president is leaving! The country needs stability and economic renewal! In this example, Obama is Ike Eisenhower, America's favorite president! He serves two wonderful mostly peaceful terms, builds up the middle class, and everyone is happy except the beatniks. So. Should we have a poll? If so we'd like to add that maybe it's 1884, on account of how nasty everyone is.