I'm not an expert on public opinion, but I think mainstream voters tend to find this kind of pessimism distasteful.
Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan said on Sunday that the U.S. is "on a path to decline," criticizing President Obama for the mediocre jobs numbers released on Friday....
To be sure, a clear majority of Americans are unsatisfied with the status quo, and most believe the nation is off track, but for those seeking national leadership to say the United States is "on a path to decline" is an awkward proposition.
Indeed, it's allowing Ryan's rivals to position themselves as the optimistic ticket.
President Barack Obama says Republicans are ''dead wrong'' in calling America a country in decline. In a spirited rally in Seminole, Fla., on Saturday, the president said the nation is still an engine of ingenuity and the envy of the world.
Vice President Biden, in his convention speech, was at his most spirited when he defended the nation's future, "Folks, there's one more thing our Republican opponents are just dead wrong about. America is not in decline. I've got news for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan: gentlemen ... it's never been a good bet to bet against the American people. Never!"
The conventional wisdom is that Ronald Reagan and "optimism" are inextricably linked, because, the story goes, it was fundamental to understanding his entire persona.
I tend to think much of this is just hype and p.r., but the myth has endured to the point that it shapes coverage of presidential campaigns, and the media scrutinizes contenders based on their capacity to be the "optimistic" candidate. And in 2012, there apparently isn't much of a contest -- Ryan sees a nation "on a path to decline," while Obama's the "Yes We Can" guy.
The Republican agenda presents a dour vision of the future, with the elderly, low-income families, students, small businesses, and struggling communities all left to fend for themselves, while the Democratic agenda goes in the exact opposite direction.
The new CNN poll found 51% of likely voters think Obama has the more optimistic vision for the country's future, compared to Romney at 41%. If optimism matters, the president's double-digit lead should add to the GOP's worries.