In the 1980 election campaign, Ronald Reagan famously asked Americans if they were better off than four years earlier. It was a question voters could answer with their payslips, and experts could weigh in with economic data and informed analysis.
In the lead-up to the 2004 election, John Kerry asked if Americans thought they were safer than three years earlier. It was an important question in the wake of 9/11, but how were voters to answer? How could they attribute this outcome to government policy? Was national security expenditure being used well? Were the impositions on personal liberty and privacy necessary?