Being unemployed, facing foreclosure, accruing debt are financial troubles that are easy to blame on external factors like the economy. In this election cycle, millions of Americans are pinning their hopes of recovery on the next presidential candidate.
An October Bankrate survey showed that 62% of respondents said their personal finances are an important factor that determines their vote. In June, Bankrate’s Financial Security Index showed that voters were evenly distributed 21% to 21% on whether Mitt Romney or Barack Obama would improve their personal finances.
Princeton Research Associates revisited that poll just one month before the election, and found that even split now in Obama’s favor with 29% of respondents saying a second term would be more beneficial for their personal finances.
One of the slogans thrown around in this election is “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” In this poll, 45% of those who experienced an improvement in their finances said they would vote for Obama, whereas 35% of those who experienced harder financial times said they would vote for Romney.
But candidates might have it all wrong. Instead of focusing on how voters’ finances have improved or worsened over the last four years, Erik Snowberg, a professor of economics at the California Institute of Technology, told Bankrate that voters have a shorter memory.
“When you ask people their opinion of an economic indicator like unemployment, their report of what they think the unemployment rate is seems to reflect their own personal circumstances rather than the national numbers” Snowberg said in a press release.”What seems to matter the most is sort of the one-year change in the year before the election, especially what happens in the second and third quarter of the election year,” Snowberg said in a press release.”
While many survey respondents said that their financial situations are closely tied with who sits in the Oval Office, many feel that the President ultimately has little influence at the personal finance level. The October poll showed that 45% of respondents said the election would not greatly impact their finances, compared to 50% in June.