Survey: Economy big issue in battleground states

President Barack Obama may face an uphill battle on the economy in eight battleground states during the November presidential election.

The study, by personal finance website, looked at how the unemployment rate, average salary and median credit score in the eight states have fared relative to the rest of the country since Obama was elected in 2008. It looked at Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Six of the eight states performed below the national average in two of the three measures, suggesting that voters primarily concerned with pocketbook issues in these states may be inclined to favor Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

“Rightly or wrongly, people tend to hold the President responsible for how they’re doing financially,” said Richard Barrington, CFA, senior financial analyst for and author of the study. “With that being the case, it looks like the economy might be an issue that does not favor Barack Obama in six of the eight most closely contested states.”

Virginia beat the national average on all three measures and Iowa beat the national average on two out of three of the measures. None of the battleground states fared worse than the national average on all three items.

From 2008 to 2012, the national figures for unemployment and median credit scores worsened, though inflation-adjusted average incomes rose about 2.5 percent. Each battleground state’s progress was measured against national averages to show its progress in the context of a slow economy. Some states may have fared better than the average, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that residents are pleased with their conditions.

While there are other important differences between President Obama and Mitt Romney that may impact the outcome of this year’s election, a heavy focus on the economy suggests that financial matters are likely to play a substantial role in who people vote for.

“With the economy front-of-mind for many Americans, it will be interesting to see how household finance issues influence voters in the key battleground states,” Barrington said.


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