I think Bush I lost because Ross Perot garnered 18% of the vote, mostly from Bush. Remember Bill Clinton was elected with just 43% of the vote in 1992. Lowest ever I believe.
No Perot=no Clinton, at least in 1992.
No doubt Perot played a role. But if the economy wasn't struggling (althought things were not as bad as portrayed), the election would not have been close.