Are your finances better off now than they were four years ago? If you live in a hotly contested "battleground" state, your answer may have special significance to the presidential race. To gauge how swing-state voters may be feeling about the economy, MoneyRates.com examined household finances in these places to measure how conditions have changed since 2008. The premise here is that if these states' conditions have fared better than the rest of the U.S. economy during that time, it may be a good sign for President Obama. And if conditions in these states have slid compared to the nation, it may bode well for Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Naturally, there are countless factors that go into determining a presidential election, and the measures below will hardly be the only things on voters' minds on November 6. But in a contest that has focused largely on economic issues, it's worth noting how these indicators have changed for these states relative to the rest of the nation.
Challenges to the incumbent
Based strictly on this look at household financial conditions in eight battleground states, President Obama's chances of winning another four years in the White House may hinge on whether he can make the election more about the future than the past: Conditions in three-quarters of those states have fared worse than the national averages in a majority of categories surveyed. The analysis looked at three factors that hit home when it comes to personal finances: unemployment, average salaries and median credit scores. Out of the eight battleground states, six seem to be having a harder time than the rest of the country in two of those three categories. Only one battleground state, Virginia, beats the national average in all three categories. Here's a state-by-state breakdown of how these battleground economies have performed in the last four years:
Colorado's nine electoral votes may be lost or won based on the job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment there is higher than the national average, and average wage growth since 2008 has been slower. The one area in which Colorado was doing a little better than the rest of the nation was credit scores. Based on figures from MyFico.com, median credit ratings in all the battleground states have deteriorated since 2008, but in the case of Colorado, the drop has been slightly milder than the national average. Still, that's two out of three factors counting against the president in this state.
With 29 electoral votes, Florida offers the biggest prize of all the battleground states. Unemployment there is higher than the national average, but it was already higher than average in 2008. Since then, unemployment has actually risen less sharply than in the rest of the country.