He may lose this year for the same reason. The economy now surpasses all other issues in voters minds.
Close behind are health care, taxes and the deficit. These issues are all intertwined.
The candidates competing proposals on taxes and spending are central to how they plan to revive economic growth.
Both have laid out ambitious markers for the next four years. Mr Obama promises to create 1m more manufacturing jobs. Mr Romney counters with predictions of 12m new jobs in total.
Neither figure is out of line when the economy has as much ground to make up as it has now. Over the coming decade, Mr Obama has projected average annual growth of 3.2%; private economists think growth of just under 3% is more likely.
A team of Mr Romneys advisers think his plan will spur the economy to grow by 3.5-4% a year.
Such forecasts are best ignored. The influence of presidents over economic growth is slight compared with the natural recuperative powers of the economy, the international climate and the unpredictable pace of innovation.
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