By most metrics, the "are you better off than you were four years ago" question plays heavily in President Obama's favor. Indeed, it's not even close -- the economy was shrinking, now it's growing; the economy was hemorrhaging jobs, now it's adding jobs; the stock market was going down, now it's going up; the auto industry was collapsing, now it's thriving; etc.
But to borrow a line from Bill Clinton's DNC speech, too many people "do not feel it yet."
Hoping to change some minds, the Obama campaign unveiled a minute-long ad over the weekend on this very subject.
For those who can't watch clips online, the spot shows Mitt Romney arguing that we're not better off than we were in January 2009. The ad then shows the crises underway when Obama took office, and the transition to a healthier economy now.
The voiceover then looks ahead: "We're not there yet, but the real question is: whose plan is better for you? The President's plan asks millionaires to pay a little more to help invest in a strong middle class, clean energy, and cut the deficit. Mitt Romney's plan? A $250,000 tax break for multi-millionaires. Roll back regulations on the banks that cratered the economy, and raise taxes on the middle class."
Viewers then see Clinton say, "They want to go back to the same old policies that got us in trouble in the first place," and Obama conclude, "We're not going back, we are moving forward."
It's a spot that checks off a lot of boxes in 60 seconds -- it points to economic progress; it reminds voters that they prefer Obama's agenda to Romney's, it connects Romney to the Bush-era debacles, and it connects Obama to Clinton, who, thanks in part to Romney, is the most popular political figure in America.
And perhaps most importantly, the spot concedes that the media and the public will not simply ignore the "better off" question, and that Team Obama has to present a compelling answer. This spot suggests they have a story worth telling.
There's ample evidence that Romney's advantage on the economy has slipped badly, and the point of an ad like this one is to further level the field. If you live in a battleground state, expect to hear this message quite a bit over the next 50 days.