In the congressional elections of 2002, Bush took full advantage of his post-September 11 popularity, campaigning actively for Republican candidates. His intervention was credited with helping his party increase its small majorities in the House and Senate, in defiance of the traditional pattern in which the president’s party loses seats in midterm elections. Continuing chaos in Iraq began to undermine support for Bush’s foreign policy. But the main threat to the president’s reelection appeared to be the condition of the American economy. During 2001, the economy slipped into a recession— that is, it contracted rather than grew. Growth resumed at the end of the year, but, with businesses reluctant to make new investments after the overexpansion of the 1990s, it failed to generate new jobs.

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