I genuinely believed over the spring and summer that the economic news would make the president’s re-election nearly impossible — and that belief wasn’t limited to “hacks” on the right.

A senior Democrat who has played a key role over the past four years told me flatly in October that he thought Obama was on the ropes in the late spring, when it became clear the economy was turning sour in the first and second quarters of 2012 after a decent quarter at the end of 2011.

Given this general sense of the country’s downward turn and a campaign flush with cash that didn’t have a great story to tell the voters, I was reminded very much of 1992 — a year I spent reporting a book called “Hell of a Ride” on the decline and fall of a Republican administration.

The reason the parallel with the elder George Bush’s 1992 campaign didn’t hold was precisely that Bush’s campaign had been astoundingly incompetent, while Obama’s proved astoundingly brilliant.