In 1992, then Clinton campaign strategist James Carville coined his immortal talking point: “the economy, stupid.” Twenty years later, the economy is by far the most significant campaign issue for voters in choosing a presidential candidate, according to a new survey of investors conducted by Spectrem Group. No other issue comes close.
Affluent investors with a net worth of more than $100,000 (not including primary residence) overwhelmingly ranked the economy as the primary campaign issue in the coming election. The older the respondent, the higher importance is placed on the economy. Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents ages 60 and up said that the economy is the major criteria they consider when selecting a candidate compared with 37 percent of those under 40.
Among the other campaign issues of importance to voters, unemployment and job creation was second in importance for these youngest voters (15 percent), while the oldest voters (14 percent) are most likely to consider the national debt an issue they consider when selecting a candidate.
As a campaign issue, the economy bridges the Mars/Venus gap, with a near-equal percentage of men and women (45 percent vs. 44 percent) saying it will be the most important issue they consider when voting for a presidential candidate. The national debt is an issue of more importance to men than women (16 percent vs. 9 percent), while women are placing a higher importance on health care (11 percent vs. 8 percent), unemployment and job creation (11 percent vs. 7 percent, and social issues (11 percent vs. 7 percent).
Taxes, which Democrats and Republicans position as a defining issue between the parties, is not registering as voting criteria for these affluent voters. They ranked lowest among campaign issues they consider to be most important.
President Obama’s message is resonating most with woman, 54 percent of whom say he is most aligned with their views. Republican candidate Mitt Romney enjoys a substantial lead among men (60 percent vs. 46 percent of women). Younger people, a demographic that played a crucial role in the 2008 election, are once again on board for Obama. Sixty-four percent said the president is the candidate most aligned with their views, compared four-in-10 of their older counterparts.
Conversely, more than half of those ages 41 and up, back Romney vs. 36 percent of the youngest voters.
Romney, not surprisingly, also enjoys a substantial lead among the wealthiest voters, who may not appreciate Obama’s call for the nation’s highest earners to pay more in taxes. Sixty-one percent of those with a net worth of $1 million and more (NIPR) say Romney is the candidate most aligned with their opinions compared with 40 percent who support Obama. Romney enjoys a slight edge even among voters with a net worth between $100,000 and $499,000 (NIPR), 51 percent vs. 49 percent for Obama.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.