Are You Better Off Than Four Years Ago?
The answer to this question around the country will have as much influence as any over who wins the U.S. presidency in November.
Exactly four years ago this month, the bottom dropped out of the U.S. economy.
Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008. The next day, the Federal Reserve announced a bailout of AIG. Bad news continued to pile up almost daily, with the stock market collapsing and millions of jobs vanishing.
On this four-year anniversary, incumbent Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney have targeted Wisconsin as among the states crucial to election as U.S. president. Romney selected Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, and Obama visited the state Saturday in hopes to influence voters on the heels of a Marquette University poll showing him with a 14-point margin here.
No single factor will define such a complex process as selection of a president, but none might be greater than the simple question: Are you better off than four years ago?
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 5.1% four years ago, spiked to 9.2 by the following July and is at 7.3% in the latest figures. Median home prices in the state were already in decline in September 2008, at $148,000. They fell as low as $114,800 this February but have climbed ever since, to $143,000 in August.
Is the improvement enough to help Obama earn Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes? Or can Mitt Romney capitalize on an economy that’s still a far cry from when Obama took office? Vote in our poll on whether you are better off than four years ago, and join the discussion in the comments section.