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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       13
Household income
<$50,000          47        33       12
$50,000+          44        34       15
Education
HS or less        46        33       13
Some college      42        32       13
College graduate  48        32       15
Financial 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        18
Income
<$50,000         19       9       24        21
$50K-$100K       22      20       12        17
$100,000+        14      32       16        14
Education
HS or less       21      11       18        20
Some college     16      21       19        18
College grad     18      25       17        15
Financial 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.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  January 23, 2008; 12:47 PM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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Comments

The President doesn't create and run the economy the market place does! This is not China where everything is state controlled so gov't can effect the marketplace immediately, or is it? Time will tell in the mean time don't rely on the gov't take matters into you own hands.

Posted by: Ryan | January 24, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you guys ever include Ron Paul? He raised almost $20 Million in the 4th quarter, all from the American people like me, not some big companies...

Posted by: Tyler | January 26, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

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