I think the highly-intelligent Greg Sargent is right in his assessment of what the Obama campaign thinks. I don't know whether this is in fact what the marginal voter thinks.
The Obama campaign’s theory of the presidential race: [Y]ou’d think that it’s imperative that Obama rebut Mitt Romney’s charge that he’s failed to turn the economy around, that Obama has had his four years, that he hasn’t shown he has the answer to people’s problems, and that Romney does have the answer to them. How can Obama do that without doubling down on the claim that things really are getting better for people?
The Obama campaign is out with a new ad in seven swing states featuring Bill Clinton that sheds some light on this…. What we’re seeing here, I believe, is the beginning of the Obama campaign’s pivot to a more concerted effort to draw a contrast between what an Obama second term would look like and what a Romney presidency would look like…. Clinton carefully says Obama has “a plan” and that we “need to keep going with his plan.” This stops just short of saying the recovery is underway, but it hints that we’re moving foward and promises recovery in the future, just as happened under Clinton. In other words, the ad rebuts one key part of Romney’s argument (Obama doesn’t have the answer; I do) by reframing this as a choice between the Clinton and Bush approach. But it doesn’t directly take on the other part of Romney’s argument (you have already shown your approach has failed).
This is rooted, I believe, in a reading of the electorate by the Obama campaign that has gone underappreciated. The Obama camp makes a distinction between whether voters think Obama has failed, and whether they are merely disappointed that he hasn’t lived up to expectations, but find that understandable given the situation he inherited…. The Obama camp believes that the latter description is a more accurate reading of the electorate’s verdict…. Given the tattered shape of the GOP brand, voter willingness to blame Bush more than Obama for the current state of things, and Romney’s negatives, the Obama camp believes this framing will play in their favor.