Economy Top Issue in Presidential Contest

An article today in the Wall Street Journal Online states,

Fifty-two percent of Americans say the economy and health care are most important to them in choosing a president, compared with 34% who cite terrorism and social and moral issues, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. That is the reverse of the percentages recorded just before the 2004 election. The poll also shows that voters see health care eclipsing the Iraq war for the first time as the issue most urgently requiring a new approach.
Actually, the economy is probably the top issue in every Presidential election. The basic rule is that a sitting President always gets reelected if the economy is perceived to be doing well at the time of the election and loses the election if economy is perceived to be in recession. So far as I know, there has never been an exception to this rule. Notice I said that what matters in a Presidential election is how the economy is perceived to be performing, not how it is actually performing. Given the constant down talking of the economy in the media, one wonders if there is a motive to influence the election or if it is just that bad news gets better ratings.  What ever it is, the tendency of the media to put a negative spin on the economic data seems transparently obvious.