Both political parties have a lot on the line between now and the 2012 elections, according to a panel speaking to financial industry officials on Monday. Karen Finney, a consultant and MSNBC political analyst who has represented the Democratic National Committee, said neither party was effective in the just-completed election cycle on what Wall Street reform really means. Consumers saw it as an amorphous thing, Finney said. “We need to have a message that resonates with people,” she said. Finney was speaking on a post-election panel at the annual SIFMA conference Monday in New York. Cornell Belcher, president of Brilliant Corners Research and Strategies, said his polling indicates that more people blame Wall Street than former President Bush or President Obama for the financial crisis. The financial industry remains the “bad guy,” to many, he said. “The more highly educated … the more likely they are to blame Wall Street for economic problems,” he said, nothing that Wall Street mostly dodged a bullet during the recent elections, but warned that campaigns going forward will be putting Wall Street in the bulls-eye, he said. Mark McKinnon, vice chairman of Public Strategies, who has represented a number of high-profile Republican candidates, including George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, said President Obama must act quickly, letting people know that he heard voters' concerns and is making changes to govern more effectively. “President Obama would be wise to look at the Clinton model because it was successful,” McKinnon said. Wall Street remains in the midst of it all, however. “We are already seeing Democratic constituents and advocates saying … they didn’t go after Wall Street enough,” he said. Republicans, meanwhile, will be trying to figure out the effect of Tea Party candidates on its caucus. Moderator Kenneth Bentsen said Reagan enthused a sense of confidence in the economy whereas Obama has been criticized for not connecting with voters. “Can he get his hope back?” Absolutely, says McKinnon, but he needs to fix the “constant whining” of blaming Bush or others. “He’s got to get that optimistic vision back. That is why these next few months are going to be critical.” Belcher said consumers must be confident about the future in order for Obama to get elected to another term. “Our leaders need to impassion us and make us believe that our future will be better.” If he does that, he will be re-elected. If he can’t, then it will be hard for him to be re-elected, Belcher said. Write to Kerry Curry.