Nate Silver talks a little history, noting that well into the 1980 campaign, Jimmy Carter seemed to be defying the bad economy. Carter was…:
…holding his own against Ronald Reagan. Some polls, even well after Labor Day (that’s Labor Day 1980, not 1979), showed the horse race to be tied or even had Mr. Carter with a slim lead.
Mr. Reagan would win overwhelmingly, however, claiming 44 states (even Massachusetts and New York) while limiting Mr. Carter to just 41 percent of the vote. He surged in the final week of the campaign after he posed the following question to Americans in the presidential debate of October 28, the first and only such event in which he and Mr. Carter participated together:
Are you better off than you were four years ago?
Where was the unemployment rate four years ago? Four points lower.
Where was our national debt? Bad, but not this bad.
Where was our budget? Settled, and while waaaaay too big (Bad Bush!), much smaller than today.
How was our standing in the world? Leftymedia yammering aside, about the same as it’d always been.
One could argue in a macroeconomic sense that I’m better off because my house doesn’t have all that mortgage-bubble-based false valuation on it. Someday I’ll look back on that had laugh.
Nope. Worse off.