Better off? Dems not so sure
September 2nd, 2012
12:17 PM ET
10 years ago

Better off? Dems not so sure

(CNN) – Republicans, hoping to convince voters that a still-stumbling economy is reason enough to change presidents, repeatedly ask: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

Democrats on Sunday seemed wary of answering, saying that while the economy has improved markedly, the situation remains dire for many Americans.

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"We're in a better position than we were four years ago," President Barack Obama's senior campaign adviser David Axelrod said on Fox News. He said improved jobs figures were an indication that the economy was headed in the right direction.

But on the direct question of whether or not voters themselves were better off, Axelrod demurred.

"I think the average American recognizes that it took years to create the crisis that erupted in 2008 and peaked in January of 2009," he said. "And it's going to take some time to work through it."

White House senior adviser David Plouffe had a similar answer on ABC, saying Republicans were simply "reciting all the statistics everyone's familiar with."

"I think everyone understands we were this close to a Great Depression," he said. "Because of the leadership of this president, we staved that off. We're beginning to recover."

And on CBS, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley admitted flat out that the answer was "no" to the question of whether "people are better off today than they were four years ago.”

"But that's not the question of this election," O'Malley said. "The question, without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars - charged for the first time to credit cards, the national credit cards.”

Earlier on CNN's "State of the Union," O'Malley said no one should be "satisfied with where things are."

"Now this is not the time to wave pompoms - it is the time to dig deep and move forward and not go back to those disastrous policies that landed us in this economic problem to begin with," he told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

All three answers are in line with what Obama tells campaign crowds on the stump. While he notes that unemployment has fallen since its peak in 2009, he makes the case that work stills needs to be done in order to get more Americans working.

"We've got a lot more work to do," he said Saturday in Iowa. "We've got more good jobs to create. We've got more homegrown energy to generate. We've got more young people to send to college."

"We've come too far to turn back now," he argued.

Voters polled in a CNN/ORC survey toward the end of August were largely split on whether or not Obama's policies would move the country in the right direction. Forty-nine percent said they would, compared to 50% who said they'd move the United States in the wrong direction.

Respondents were slightly more confident in Romney's policies, which 52% said would move the country in the right direction and 45% said would move it in the wrong direction.

Filed under: 2012 • Economy • President Obama
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    My home in Florida reached one third of the purchased value in 2007. The stock market was hovering around 7000, we were paying for two unfunded wars off the books, unfunded TARP, and unfunded drug programs. We were in a near depression, and things have definitely gotten better.

    September 2, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Hmm. For the past three weeks, TeaNN did nothing but promote Romney and Crew with oh so positive articles hoping to bring the new and improved Mitt Romney to the forefront before his convention.

    Today, we get the bad, bad Obama Republican talking point BS thrown in our faces.

    No wonder three quarters of Americans tune out. Apparently, Ann Romney's red dress and Ryan's oranges are all TeaNN can come up with in support of their candidate ... so hey, lets go after Obama .... again.

    September 2, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    In the last three and a half years, the United States has come a long way from the Bush republican near depression, and not a single republican voted to help our country during a time of war and republican economic chaos.

    September 2, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  4. GaryOwen27

    Mabe we are no better off, but at least we are not sliding into the abyss as the Red Neck Right has intended.

    September 2, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. rla

    We have not come a long way when the debt is considered and the economic and strategic it poses for the very survival of the nation!... There is no plan to solve anything that I can see but I can see the ten trillion in new debt over the next ten years- You should alll be terrified of Obama and his ideology and lack of experience

    September 2, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Woman In California

    Yes, I am and IF the president had gotten just a little bit of help from those on the right, the WHOLE country would be able to yes to this question so why should I (or anyone) vote for a party who admittingly and proudly held many Americans, including myself hostage?

    Obama/Biden 2012 ALL the way.

    September 2, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. w l jones

    Every grocery,dry good and all other business were re stocking the stores i were saying to myself the people know something good coming there way way they buying up goods.

    September 2, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. CanadaONE

    Voters polled in a CNN/ORC survey toward the end of August were largely split on whether or not Obama's policies would move the country in the right direction.

    Here is some info that will hep you chnage your minds

    Canada has stronger economy than the USA albeit slowly rebounding
    1. Higher wages
    2. Universal Health Care
    3. More bank regulations
    4. More tax evasion laws
    5. College and Universities tuition fees are significantly cheaper
    6. More government investment in schools
    7. Less people like Romney trying to avoid taxation
    8. Per pollution we have more richer people
    9. Stronger middle class that runs the country
    10. Most advanced immigration policy
    OUTCOMES Canada has
    1. Higher take home pay than USA
    2. Lower unemployment
    3. 88% energy self-reliant
    4. School standards amongst the best in the world
    5. People don’t die because they cannot afford health care
    6. We have a longer life span than Americans
    7. We invest more in our kids – thanks to government
    1. Romney is on the wrong track headed for the Cayman Islands – tax cheater
    2. Obama is headed in the RIGHT direction – slow but SURE!

    September 2, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. JC

    Better off? Absoutely! Stock Market has been great. 401K never been higher. Talked to a good friend and my two grown sons about their lives these last few years last night. All said they are much better off and doing pretty well. Better jobs, making more money, families are doing well. Didn't mention politics until after the conversation. Two of them (Republicans) kind looked taken back when I mentioned that Romney wanted them to ask themselves that question. Now they get to decide to vote for their well-being or vote for politics. Sometimes the truth isn't what you want it to be. ( or maybe me and my friends just try harder)

    September 2, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. JC

    So easy we forget. Let's say we are adding 20k jobs a month now or even break even. I DO remember we were losing 800k jobs a month when Obama took office. Add up losing 800k jobs a month times 4 years and where do you think we would have been today. Worse yet throw in defaulting the United States debt obligations as the Tea Party sugggested. Sometimes I wonder what the motives actually are because continuing to lose a gazillion jobs and not paying our debt certainly isn't in the best interest of any of us.

    September 2, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. enuff

    Remember? if we're not better off, then it's our own fault? According to Romney it is. Mr. Rich said so... that and corporations are people too. CNN is turning into a tabloid page for Romney. Stupid articles about the Romney sons tweeting each other about a practical joke, a weeks worth of nothing but republican stories, barely mentioning the treatment your OWN camera person received, Rove threatening people... but it's okay because he apologized. Where are your journalistc values?

    September 2, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. enuff

    I LOVE how CNN is trying to cast doubt on the democrats. Were is the comment that the Rebublicans stated on day one of Obama's campaign that their goal was to make him a one term president? Where are the examples of obstruction that were played to block everything Obama tried? Are we better off? Ask the republicans... obviously they will give the answer that CNN WANTS TO HEAR.

    September 2, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. gt

    wow... how low the bar has drop....instead of a better life ...its well it could of been worse...pathedic...not what america is famous for ...not how we got to where were at....ugh....

    September 2, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  14. kim

    George Bush labored hard for eight years to deliver this country into the hands of his banker buddies and Wall Street CEOs, start two wars to avenge his father, and reverse our financial situation from a surplus to a deficit. Obama has recieved less than zero help from a Congress that is fast approaching traitor status to most informed Americans, so I am willing to give him more time to fix things. It would go faster if Republicans would admit their failure and get out of the way for two or three decades.

    September 2, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  15. Marie MD

    My family is better off because after losing 1/2 of our 401k it is finally getting to where it was in 2007 after, thanks to shrub #43, tanked.
    I have friends who didn't have jobs now fully employed also. Maybe if those corporations, I mean people, would start hiring and not wait until November to help the economy and American workers instead of the flip flopping twit maybe, just maybe, we can get back to better days for all.

    September 2, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. Beezy

    if obama supporters think we are better off now they must be very rich or very dillusional.

    September 2, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  17. Hammerer

    Yes but are you better off today than 2008? Make all of the excuses you want but this Obama agenda can only be considered disastrous.
    All of the whinning and yes buts will not change that!

    September 2, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. Lily

    Asking people whether they are better off now without giving specifics how to make it better make no sense. This slogan was used those days and doesn't apply now as we are living different times. Folks, don't fall in this trap. It is not worthy being in it.

    September 2, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. korkea aika

    Romney wants to cut his taxes and send your kids to war to ensure that the price of oil stays low, protecting his investments. Then he'll fight to repeal the 'inheritance tax' so that his kids can do the same to your kids in the future

    September 2, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. korkea aika

    Let's be fiscally responsible. No more republican 'war-now-pay-later' Republican conservative Presidents until we pay off the debts the last one left us with.

    September 2, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. GI Joe

    BUT – we are far better off now than we will be in 4 years of republicans stripping us of human rights, healthcare, minimum wage, etc.

    Think, people. Elections have consequences. If you thought Bush was bad, Romney/Ryan will be 10x that.

    September 2, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |