When running against Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan asked the American people if they were better off than they were four years ago. The phrase perfectly summarized in the most basic terms how democracy often winds up working. When things are going well, you don’t break what is working, but when things are going bad, it makes sense to try something new.

If Romney were to ask voters in swing states that same question this year, he would receive a clear no. According to Gallup 56 percent of voters in swing states say they are not better off than they were when Obama took office, while only 40 percent think they are. From Gallup:

Would you say you and your family are better off than you were four years ago, or not?

This is why despite Romney’s clear weakness as a candidate and the GOP’s brand problems, Obama still has a possibility of losing. To many it appears he failed the most basic test of a leader, making things better.