WASHINGTON -- Eventually, the economic recovery will pick up steam -- whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is in the White House.
That's what many economic outlooks project. And the president -- and the party occupying the Oval Office -- will reap some of the benefits.
But first, Obama or Romney, together with Congress, will have to pull back from the widely deplored "fiscal cliff," the politically created budget abyss facing the nation at year's end.
The betting on that ranges from mild optimism to nail-biting anxiety. But most economic analysts agree that if Washington resolves that looming crisis, Americans can expect faster economic growth and lower unemployment.
"Regardless of who is president, if the next president is able to nail down these fiscal issues, then I do think we're off and running," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.
That would be welcome news for a nation that has been struggling through a slow comeback from the deepest recession and fiscal crisis since the Great Depression -- and needs to shore itself up quickly in the event Europe slips back into recession.
Six countries in the eurozone -- Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal -- already are in recession. And the continent's struggles were underscored Monday by a report that unemployment remained at its record high rate of 11.4 percent in the 17 countries that use the euro.
Politically in the U.S., a strong rebound would be great news for a Romney presidency or an Obama legacy. And it would do much to enhance or repair the brand of either of the political parties, whichever holds the White House, before the 2014 congressional elections and the 2016 White House race.
Jared Bernstein, former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden, said presidents actually have the greatest impact on economies when markets fail.
But, he added: "We will never live in a world where presidents don't take credit of for an improved economy on their watch."
Both Obama and Romney have placed great stock in their economic recovery plans during this year's campaign, Obama with his "balanced approach" of tax increases for the wealthy and spending reductions, Romney with his spending cuts and lower tax rates.
But many economists say the fate of the recovery rests not so much with those specific plans as it does with a bargain -- either at year's end or during the first several months of 2013 -- by the new or the re-elected president and Congress that avoids steep and immediate spending cuts and an immediate across-the-board tax increase.
Congress and Obama agreed that those drastic deficit-cutting measures would take effect in January unless lawmakers and the president worked out and approved other proposals in the meantime. That intense debate will resume in earnest almost immediately after the Nov. 6 election.
" If the cliff is resolved in a relatively benign fashion where there is modest fiscal austerity and serious compromise between the two parties, then the economy can go back to its recovery," said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economic research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "If they really do a poor job of handling the fiscal cliff, they may actually kill this potential rebound."