Economists put Obama re-election odds at 49 percent

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal put the odds of a second term for President Obama at 49 percent. 

Caution: The economists weren't using forecasting models to predict the 2012 election. They were just responding to a question about Obama's odds for re-election. 

But the results reflect experts' unease with the economy and Obama's political future.

"It's way too early to call," said one economist surveyed. "Flip a coin."

The economists predicted a tepid economic recovery. They expect 3 percent growth in the gross domestic product this year and a 9.3 percent unemployment rate in December. The jobless rate for February was 9.7 percent.

The economists credited government efforts to pull the economy out of a recession. Three quarters of them said Obama's stimulus was a net positive for the economy. Without the more than $800 billion in stimulus spending, economic growth would be 2.2 percent and the jobless rate 10.4 percent in 2010.

The government action that played the biggest role in rescuing the economy was the Fed's low interest rates. A slight majority -- 51 percent -- said that was the single biggest move that has helped bring on a rescue. Just 6 percent said the stimulus was the most important action by the government.