In 1992, when Bill Clinton ran for president, his mantra was “It’s the economy, stupid!”. He believed that joblessness and slow growth were the only issues that concerned voters. In 2012, American voters again tell pollsters that the economy is the most important national challenge as they decide their vote. Nevertheless, non-economic concerns may ultimately determine who becomes the next president of the US.
Many voters, especially those in the swing states that may ultimately determine the outcome of the election, say they trust Republican candidate Mitt Romney more than president Barack Obama to do a better job dealing with the economy, unemployment and the budget deficit. But personality traits may also play a decisive role. And voters strongly think Obama better understands ordinary Americans, is more honest and consistent.
Moreover, in swing states, women say it is abortion and equal pay for equal work that are more important issues than the economy. And Obama holds a significant lead among female voters who, in the 2008 US presidential election, out-voted men by 10 million votes. So, on 6 November 2012, it will again be the economy, stupid. But the outcome of the election may also depend on character and women’s issues. Bruce Stokes, 28 October 2012
You can view Mr Stokes's insightful charts updated for the OECD Observer by clicking here.
©OECD Observer No 293, Q4 2012