Despite a still-shaky economy, Mr. Obama currently leads against Republican challenger Mitt Romney in eight out of nine states where the two are in tight contests, according to an average of state-level polls compiled by the website RealClearPolitics. Why? A recent model developed by Yale economist Ray Fair suggests that voters care most about the performance of the economy in the 1-2 years leading up to an election. And, though things are certainly not rosy yet, some important trends have been getting better, not worse, in the past year. Jobs are up. Unemployment is down. Home prices and stock indices have begun to climb back toward pre-recession peaks. All of which means that, in a race that is still too close to predict, things aren’t looking bad for the Democrats.