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U.S. economyMost people aren’t kidding themselves about the state of the economy: It’s bad and too many are suffering. Still, it appears that a large number of Americans are anticipating a significant turnaround sooner rather than later. According to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday, for the first time in a good while, voters are looking at the economy with optimism.

SEE ALSO: Obamas To Skip Martha Vineyards This Year

CNN reports:

“Americans are usually optimists, but in 2011, polls for the first time found that more than half the country thought that economic conditions would worsen in the next 12 months,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Now that trend has reversed itself, with only four in ten saying that the economy will be in poor shape a year from now.”

Sixty percent of those questioned say the economy will be in good shape next year, a surge from 39% who felt that way last October. Despite that jump, three-quarters say that current economic conditions are poor, a slight worsening of opinion since May, but better than where things stood in January.

“Not surprisingly, the poll indicates that the economy’s the public’s top issue, the only topic that more than half say will be extremely important to their presidential vote in November,” adds Holland.

Unfortunately, economists aren’t as hopeful about where we’ll be in 2013.

The latest Associated Press Economy Survey shows that a majority of economists expect the national unemployment rate to stay above 6 percent for at least four more years. That figure would be above what is considered the “normal” rate of five to six percent. If this premonition proves itself true, it would be the longest stretch of high unemployment since the end of World War II.

It’s clear that regardless of who wins the election, harsh economic realities will greet the next president in January. Voters may be optimistic right now, but the more information pours out where we are headed, it is likely that Mitt Romney might finally find a clue (and a new staff to boot) to help him better build a case against President Barack Obama.

So while Mittens figures out what to make of Wall Street Journal columns trying to show him the way to victory, this is an opportunity for President Obama to defend his policies and talk about the real impediment to meaningful recovery: Republicans.

On Thursday, he embarked on a two-day bus tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania with the intention to defend his economic policies against criticism. He also hopes to remind regional voters about his efforts to rescue U.S. automakers. The trip comes on the heels of weak manufacturing data released this week.

Still, Obama needs to underscore how his past attempts to moving recovery efforts forward have been met by incessant obstructionism.

What came of the job bill Obama introduced before Congress? A bill he pledged would create 4 million jobs and add a much-needed boost to our infrastructure?

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives blocked nearly every single measure.

As much as the Right gave Obama hell for his comments about the private sector being “fine,” job growth within it has continued to grow during his time in office. What has suffered is government jobs and blame for that goes to Republicans who have been laying off workers, and for kicks, have targeted unions to have the freedom to lay off more in the future.

On the other hand, what can one expect of a President Romney, who declared that we don’t need more cops, firefighters, or teachers?

Speaking before thousands of teachers at the at the National Education Association‘s annual convention on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden said, “I can’t think of a candidate for president who’s ever made such a direct assault on such an honorable profession.”

No matter how much it upsets Ann Romney, these sort of unrelenting attacks on gaffes made by Mitt Romney in addition to criticism about his much-touted time at Bain Capital, are essential to Obama’s re-election efforts. The “it could be worse” approach might be fear mongering, but no less fearful than a Romney administration.

Speaking to the AP, Allen Sinai, chief global economist at Decision Economics, said the United States needs to stimulate growth and rein in government spending and budget deficits over the long run. “I don’t envy the next president, whoever he is,” Sinai said. “He is going to have one heck of a problem to fix.”

Sound off!

Michael Arceneaux is Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more on this site, thecynicalones.com. Follow him on Twitter @youngsinick.

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