The Economic Primaries
Just how do the presidential contenders stack up on the economy, the election's top concern?
The picture is clearer on the Democratic side, where Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had the edge as the candidate best able to handle the economy in the most recent Post-ABC poll. And as it is on other measures, the situation is more muddled for Republicans; four GOP candidates are tied for tops on the economy.
Among Democrats, 46 percent said Clinton is best on the economy, 33 percent said Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and 13 percent former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.). Clinton's edge on the issue was down sharply from a December Post-ABC poll, but she maintained a lead across the economic spectrum.
Democrats, regardless of financial position (whether they're "getting ahead" or "falling behind") were more apt to trust Clinton on the economy. She also held the margin among those with both higher and lower incomes: Forty-seven percent of those in households with annual incomes below $50,000 said they trust Clinton most, as did 44 percent in higher income households (although Obama holds an advantage in this group in baseline vote preferences).
Among the Republicans, no candidate was the economic favorite of even 20 percent of the potential GOP electorate. Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former governors Mitt Romney (Mass.) and Mike Huckabee (Ark.) divided the pool evenly (McCain at 19 percent, other three at 18 percent).
But beneath the even surface, the crosstabs reveal a big divide. Those who have had the most economic success - those who are getting ahead financially, have annual household incomes of at least $100,000 or are highly educated - leaned toward Romney on fiscal matters.
In the poll, Romney did twice as well among those getting ahead financially as he does among those doing less well: Twenty-eight percent of those who reported getting ahead financially said they trust Romney most to handle the economy, while just 14 percent of those just maintaining or falling behind said the same. Among those not excelling financially, 21 percent said Giuliani is tops, 20 percent said McCain and 18 percent Huckabee.
In higher income GOP households, 32 percent said they trust Romney the most, compared with 9 percent of those with annual incomes under $50,000. And among college graduates, a quarter chose Romney, while non-college graduates were about evenly divided between the four leading contenders.
Below are some of the key crosstabs for each party.
Regardless of who you may support, who do you trust most to handle the economy? (Among leaned Democrats*)
Clinton Obama Edwards All 46 33 13Household income
<$50,000 47 33 12 $50,000+ 44 34 15Education
HS or less 46 33 13 Some college 42 32 13 College graduate 48 32 15Financial status
Getting ahead 44 34 14 Maintaining standard of living 45 34 13 Falling behind 50 30 13
Regardless of who you may support, who do you trust most to handle the economy? (Among leaned Republicans*)
McCain Romney Giuliani Huckabee All 19 18 18 18Income
<$50,000 19 9 24 21 $50K-$100K 22 20 12 17 $100,000+ 14 32 16 14Education
HS or less 21 11 18 20 Some college 16 21 19 18 College grad 18 25 17 15Financial status
Getting ahead 16 28 11 19 Maintaining standard/ Falling behind 20 14 21 18
*Leaned Democrats includes self-identified Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents; Leaned Republicans includes self-identified Republicans and GOP-leaning independents.
All data from the Washington Post-ABC News national poll conducted 1/9-1/12. Full question text and methodology for this poll can be found here.
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