Obama Losing on Crucial ‘Are You Better Off’ Question

Monday, 20 Aug 2012 10:07 AM

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Swing state voters, by a margin of 56 to 40 percent, say they are not better off than they were four years ago, according to a poll released Monday. But they are divided on whether they would be better off under a Barack Obama or Mitt Romney administration.

The results are from a USA Today/Gallup Swing states poll of 970 registered voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin conducted August 6-13.

The question stems from then-candidate Ronald Reagan’s comment in a 1980 presidential debate with President Jimmy Carter. Reagan asked if Americans were better off than they were four years ago.

“The question is relevant again in 2012 as Barack Obama seeks a second term as president with the economy still struggling to recover from the 2008-2009 recession,” Gallup wrote in an analysis of the data. “The fact that the majority of voters in the crucial states that will decide the election believe they are not better off is a challenge for the Obama campaign. That includes 50 percent of independent voters in the swing states, in addition to 36 percent of Democrats and 84 percent of Republicans saying they are not better off.”

However, when asked if their situation would be better in four years if Obama is re-elected or if Romney is elected, 44 percent of voters chose Obama and 44 percent chose Romney.

Another mitigating factor for Obama is that only 20 percent of voters place the blame on him, with 15 percent blaming Obama and President George W. Bush and 21 percent not blaming Obama.

“It is quite possible that voters may cut Obama some slack on the economy, given that he took office during one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history,” Gallup wrote. “And the poll finds that is the case for just under half of voters in the swing states, with 46 percent saying Obama has done as well as could be expected in dealing with the economy given its condition when he took office, while 52 percent say he has not. The majority of those who are better off say Obama has done as well as could be expected, while most of those who say they are not better off disagree.”

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