"People want this economy to work for the people who work hard," says Lake.
If debt is to become a major talking point on the campaign trail, congressional Republicans may also face an uphill battle with regard to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal government's consumer watchdog agency. The GOP's continued resistance to the agency, from its structure to its funding, might hurt them with voters in financial trouble.
As the CFPB is currently pushing for supervisory authority over large debt collectors, that could potentially endear the 30 million potential voters with past due debt to President Obama, who oversaw the creation of the bureau.
So while the overriding issue of the 2012 campaign will be "jobs, jobs, jobs," the message that may win an election may have to focus on growing problem of debt, debt, debt.