For one thing, Americans are today viewing the economy somewhat more confidently than they were six months ago when Mitt Romney's campaign advisers were building their election strategy.
A measure of the failure to make the difficult economy a winning issue can be found
in the same recent Bloomberg National Poll that shows Obama six points ahead of Romney overall.
The survey, done Sept. 21-24, found 53 percent of Americans disapprove of President Obama's handling of the economy versus 41 percent who approve. That ought to be excellent news for the GOP challenger.
But the response to another question plays havoc with the Romney campaign's supposed zinger originally posed by Ronald Reagan to taunt Jimmy Carter in 1980, "Are you better off today than when Obama took office?” In fact, 43 percent in the Bloomberg poll say they are better off now, compared with 33 percent who say they are worse off and 23 percent who say things for them are about the same.
In addition, to the question "Whom do you think has laid out a better vision for a successful economic future for the U.S.?" 48 percent say Obama and only 39 percent say Romney. A question relating the two men's economic stimulus plans with an emphasis on job creation—"Regardless of whom you support, whose approach do you think would do the most good for the economy?"—found an even wider gap, with 52 percent favoring Obama's approach and 40 percent favoring Romney's.
Dig deeper into the numbers and it's not quite as clean a cut:
While likely voters prefer Obama and regard him as better-connected with ordinary Americans’ struggles and worries, the survey indicates that middle-wage workers are less likely to hold this view. Obama beats Romney among those earning less than $50,000 and more than $100,000, yet among those in between, Romney has a slight edge. The same is true on who would do best at improving the economic situation for the middle class; Obama has advantages with those earning less than $50,000 and more than $100,000, yet those in the middle prefer Romney.
But the term "slight edge" for Romney among middle-wage voters needs to be underscored. At two percent, it's less than the 3.1-point margin of error in the poll.
It would take a sharp shift in the situation to change the views reflected in this poll to give Romney an overall edge on economic issues. With less than six weeks left, there is little chance of a major change in the official statistics or in the average person's personal circumstances, both of which have been making steady but excruciatingly slow progress the past two years.