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Obama benefits from growing swing-state economies

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We talked last week about Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) delivering a message to his constituents: the state's economy is improving, jobs are being created, and there's reason for optimism. It is, of course, the exact opposite of what Mitt Romney wants Ohioans to believe right now.This week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was similarly unhelpful to the larger GOP cause.

"Today's unemployment report adds to the series of encouraging indicators that Florida's economy is steadily moving in the right direction. With 243,594 job openings listed by various help-wanted websites and our unemployment rate down 2.2 points to 8.7%, more Floridians are finding new jobs throughout the Sunshine State. [...]

"With a strong start to 2012, our economy is situated for even brighter days during the summer season."

You can almost hear Romney shouting in the background: "You guys are screwing this up royally. We need people feeling depressed and hopeless, not excited about 'brighter days.'"

This keeps happening. Many of the nation's key swing states -- Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania -- are led by Republican governors, each of whom are eager to tell their constituents that the economy is looking up. They're hoping to boost their own fortunes, but inadvertently, they're also helping President Obama in an election year in which the economy is easily the nation's top issue.

What's more, Bloomberg News reported this week, "The unemployment rates in a majority of the 2012 battleground states are lower than the national average as those economies improve." In Ohio, the jobless rate is down to 7.4%. In Virginia, it's improved to 5.6%. Even in Nevada, where the unemployment rate is still a crushing 11.7%, the figure has dropped two points in one year, which represents rather extraordinary progress.

Obviously, folks like Kasich, Scott, and Bob "Ultrasound" McDonnell don't want the president to get credit for the fact that the economy improved after his administration and congressional Democrats pulled the nation back from the brink of a catastrophe. But that doesn't change Romney's central challenge: telling voters in these key states not to believe their lying eyes.

"Things are obviously getting better," he'll argue, "though I need you to believe they're getting worse." It's no easy task.