Forget the polls. The gauge of success in this year’s presidential election could come down to another indicator — how many Americans are making babies.

While the pundits pore over the latest approval ratings and economic outlooks to test the mood of the nation, this often-overlooked measure of consumer confidence speaks volumes.

The fertility rate has long been linked by economists to the health of the economy. It’s unclear what that rate will be come election day — but right now, projections show confidence is down in an historic way. If the trend holds, it’s another sign that President Obama will have to counter a pessimistic mood to win a second term.

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