Unemployment is down in swing states, which means support for Barack Obama is up. Recent polls show the president has an advantage over Republican candidate Mitt Romney. And it's still the economy, stupid.

What's made the difference is that unemployment has dropped more sharply in several swing states than in the nation as a whole. A resurgence in manufacturing is helping the economy — and Obama's chances — in the industrial Midwestern states of Ohio and Michigan.

And Arizona, Nevada and Florida, where unemployment remains high, are getting some relief from an uptick in tourism.

The failing economy and high unemployment rate were largely credited with Republican victories in 2010's midterm elections. But improving numbers in many of the 14 states considered to be swing states point to a shift back to the Democrats.

Aside from the polls, there is a clear trend when it comes to unemployment: since 1956, no incumbent president has lost "when unemployment fell over the two years leading up to his re-election contest." By the same token, when the unemployment rate rose, no incumbent president has been re-elected.

But simmer down, Obama fans. It's only April, and this country has a habit of falling apart from time to time.

Political analysts caution that voter sentiment — not to mention economic momentum — can turn fast. A month before the most recent polling, for instance, Obama was running behind or neck-and-neck with Romney in battleground states.

So while the economy has a huge impact on the outcome of November's presidential election, we can't say for certain what it will look like eight months from now. Or, hey, maybe it's just a popularity contest, anyway.

[Image via AP]