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Swing state voters on the economy: It stinks

Barack Obama during his speech to the 2015 Grammy Awards audience. Barack Obama during his speech to the 2015 Grammy Awards audience.
Barack Obama during his speech to the 2015 Grammy Awards audience. From YouTube

Most swing state voters are feeling glum about the economic recovery and don’t expect it to improve any time soon.

That’s the key takeaway from a new survey of the electorate in eight states likely to determine the 2016 presidential race. The poll paints a grim picture of popular sentiment in those states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia — with 61% describing the economy as “not good” or “poor” and two-thirds saying they expect the situation to remain the same or worsen over the next year. And strikingly, 40% still believe the United States is in a recession.

With the exception of North Carolina, President Obama carried the states surveyed in his 2012 reelection race. But by a 40-36 margin, respondents would opt for a Republican candidate over a Democratic one if the next election were held today. Part of the explanation may owe to their assessment of Washington’s performance managing the turnaround: a whopping 78% disapprove of the feds on that score.

The results are a bit of a curveball, considering other recent surveys have shown economic optimism ticking up. One, a late April poll from CNN/ ORC, found 52% of respondents rate the economy as “very” or “somewhat” good, the first time that measure has crept into positive territory since Obama took office.

The swing-state poll was conducted by the Economic Innovation Group, a recently launched Beltway think tank. The bipartisan outfit — bankrolled by some high-profile Silicon Valley names including Facebook alum Sean Parker and SV Angel founder Ron Conway — aims to push policy ideas that will help entrepreneurs and investors unleash a broader-based recovery. It’s led in Washington by Steve Glickman, a former senior economic advisor in the Obama administration, and John Lettieri, a former advisor to then-Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and trade association executive.

They did find at least one bright spot: Younger voters are more hopeful, with more of those between the ages of 18 and 34 expecting conditions to improve over the next year than degrade. But that’s small solace for Democrats looking to defend their record heading into 2016, considering that the older, grumpier voters are the ones who actually turn out on Election Day.

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