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By Mil Arcega
Washington
14 December 2007
 
Watch report Economy vs Iraq

For the first time in the 2008 presidential campaign, the economy has overtaken Iraq as the number one issue facing the country. An ABC News poll this week shows that 44 percent of voters think the economy is the nation's biggest problem, compared to 37 percent who say they are more worried about Iraq. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.

American money
If the 2004 election was about terrorism, the 2008 vote is shaping up to be all about the U.S. economy.

With all the headlines about a possible U.S. recession, skyrocketing oil prices and millions of home foreclosures, Wall Street Journal editor Wendy Bounds says it is enough to dampen holiday spirits.

"We're heading to this final stretch of the holidays," she said. "I think it's inevitable that unless you have a loved one who is fighting overseas, that inevitably, your attention is going to turn to your pocketbook."

US in recession? Raising gas prices has some thinking that it is possible.
US in recession? Raising gas prices has some thinking that it is possible
And as the latest ABC News poll shows, for the first time, concerns about the economy have taken over Iraq as the number one issue for voters - something the top Republican and Democratic party presidential candidates are mindful of.

"Many of them are having to work two jobs," said Repubican candidate Mike Huckabee. 

"Increasingly, I see that the economy will be front and center," said Democratic hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton. 

"There are structural problems in our economy," said John Edwards, also a Democratic candidate.  

And Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, has said, "Some economists are now predicting a possible recession."

For some Americans, the renewed focus on the economy revolves around uncertainty.

"It's just, again, a lack of confidence," said one man. "What's around the corner? We don't know."

Wendy Bounds
Wendy Bounds

But for those facing the prospect of losing their homes, or having to pay more for gas, Wendy Bounds says the issue is less about uncertainty and more about shrinking wallets.

"I think people really are feeling a pinch," she said. "People thinking, wait, my mortgage is going to go up $300-$400. I've got to think about what I'm spending."

One woman said, "We are spending less. By this time last year, I would have had tons of gifts under the tree."

Of those who were polled, only 28 percent of voters say the economy is in good shape, the lowest confidence rating in four years. Not the kind of news retailers want to hear with less than two weeks to go in a make or break holiday shopping season.

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