U.S. economic growth slowed to a rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012, down from 3 percent in the last three months of 2011, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Economists had been expecting firmer growth of around 2.5 percent. Financial analysts say there's "nothing catastrophic" in the numbers, but will this derail the Obama re-election campaign's attempts to assure voters that the economy is back on the right track?

Obama's re-election pitch just got weaker: This undermines the White House's "we're on the right track" spiel, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Growth of 2.2 percent "won't be a disaster on the stump," but it looks like we're in for "another Stagnant Spring." If so, President Obama won't win any votes by bringing up the state of the economy. So brace yourselves: Democrats will be to talking a lot about "dog carriers and condoms in the weeks ahead."
"GDP drops to 2.2 percent in Q1"

The economy is on the right track: With most of Europe slipping back into recession, says The Economist, America's first-quarter performance "looks positively robust." Sure, people are impatient for a "real recovery" with soaring investment and demand, but it's encouraging to see increases in private residential investment and exports. The bottom line is that "America's underlying fundamentals look increasingly strong," which these days is "a rarity worth boasting about."
"Waiting for a boom"

It's too early to say whether the economy will help or hurt Obama: We'll have to wait to see whether the growth figure is revised up or down to know whether the economy will really be "fodder" for Mitt Romney against Obama, says Ron Scherer at The Christian Science Monitor. Typically, if growth hits 3 percent, the economy is a plus for an incumbent president. If it dips below 2 percent, "voters are antsy." The first-quarter slip puts Obama squarely in what economists term the "gray zone."
"GDP report puts Obama in economic 'gray zone.' Will Republicans profit?"