Exactly four years ago this month, the bottom dropped out of the U.S. economy.
Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008. The next day, the Federal Reserve announced a bailout of AIG. Bad news continued to pile up almost daily, with the stock market collapsing and millions of jobs vanishing.
No single factor will define such a complex process as selection of a president, but none might be greater than the simple question: Are you better off than four years ago?
California's unemployment rate was 7.9 percent four years ago, spiked to 12.4 percent by February 2010 and is at 10.6 percent in the latest figures. The Los Angeles Times reported in August that median home prices in the Golden State rose to $281,000, the highest since Sept. 2008.
At 57 percent in recent California polls, Obama shows a strong lead to get Golden State's 55 electoral votes by November, and is in the lead for the entire country.
Is the improvement enough to help Obama win the election? Or can Mitt Romney capitalize on an economy that’s still a far cry from when Obama took office? Vote in our poll on whether you are better off than four years ago, and join the discussion in the comments section.
Keep up to date with who's leading in the polls in California.