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Are You Better Off Than You Were in 2008? Swing-State Voters Say No

In 1980, Ronald Reagan famously asked Americans if they were better off then four years ago. He then of course went on to win the election against Jimmy Carter. Since then, it’s been a question that has been up in every Presidential election. According to a new Gallup poll of swing-state voters, the answer to that famous question is “no”.

A majority of voters in key 2012 election swing states say they are not better off than they were four years ago; 40% say they are better off. Swing-state voters’ assessments of their situation compared with 2008 have varied little since last fall.

The results are based on the latest USA Today/Gallup Swing States poll, conducted Aug. 6-13 with a sample of 970 registered voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.The results are similar for all U.S. registered voters, among whom 42% say they are better off and 55% say they are not.

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% of independent voters in the swing states, in addition to 36% of Democrats and 84% of Republicans saying they are not better off.

One key in determining how big a threat the lack of improvement in voters’ lives is to Obama’s re-election chances is whether they blame him for their situation. The poll finds that voters do not widely blame Obama for their circumstances. Twenty percent of swing-state voters say they are not better off and blame Obama alone. Another 15% are not better off and blame Obama but also blame George W. Bush. And 21% do not blame Obama, including 7% who believe Bush alone is responsible.

Interesting numbers from Gallup and numbers that the Romney/Ryan campaign should use. What do you think?

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