By Stacy Rapacon
It's the question every incumbent up for reelection has had to answer since challenger Ronald Reagan first posed it to incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Was the president's first-term performance, as measured by your quality of life, worthy of an encore? In this 2012 campaign, the answer is not so simple -- despite all the campaign rhetoric on both sides.
Mitt Romney blasts President Obama for presiding over a period of falling incomes, rising gas and food prices, persistently high unemployment and growing national debt. His slogan: "We can't afford four more years." Obama cites improving job-creation numbers, steps toward more-equal pay for men and women, more consumer protection against predatory lending practices, and more Americans covered by health insurance than ever before. His campaign says, "We've come too far to turn back now."
So, are you better off? (Share your take in our online poll.) Are we better off? Consider the following measures of individual and national economic growth throughout the last four years to help you answer this critical question.
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