Lesson from Iowa: It's the Economy, Stupid

What is the lesson out of Iowa?  It's the economy, stupid.

Yes, African-American Barak Hussein Obama -- a first-term Senator from Illinois -- won in a state that is 95 percent white.  As Juan Williams of NPR and Fox News said, there was no black or Hispanic vote to put him over the top.  But, more than that, Americans want change. 

Look at who voted for Obama -- younger people, single people, single women, people who make over $100,000 per year AND under $100,000 per year -- and union members.  Union members?  Weren't they supposed to be backing Edwards?  Obama campaigned as the candidate of change, and Americans who feel economically insecure supported him.

One the Republican side, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee won pretty handily.  Yes, Evangelicals and home-schoolers put him over the top.  But, what was his message?  I'm like you.  I grew up in Hope, Arkansas in a poor rural situation, and by gosh I'm running for President of the United States.  Huckabee is the anti-Romney.  Huckabee still worries about his finances, as do most of us.  Romney is not just rich, he's wealthy.  Romney grew up as the son of a CEO and governor.  We can understand Huckabee: his economic concerns, his health concerns, and his jokes. He's just as flawed as we are.  Romney has a perfect family, a perfect resume, and perfect hair.  We can't relate. 

Both Obama and Huckabee exemplify something else.  They embody the American dream.  We could be them, with some hard work and luck.  More importantly, they are not creatures of the political establishment.  They are not to blame for our problems -- they have our problems. 

Another theme coming out of Iowa: it's not about crime.  Romney's comparison ad casting Huckabee as soft on crime with 1033 pardons and clemencies while governor -- including 12 convicted murderers and one who went out to commit a heinous rape-murder -- didn't work.  He tried to repeat the infamous Willie Horton ad and it didn't resonate.  Why?  Because it's the economy, stupid.   

This election is not about crime or terrorism or the war or national security.  The only security that concern Americans -- and will continue to concern Americans in the coming months -- is economic security. That is why Edwards out-polls every Republican candidate in head-to-head polls.  His message is about having a better life -- about change for the better -- about the economy and against corporate greed.

Granted, if you combine the Thompson and Romney votes they outweigh the Huckabee votes, but as long as Thompson's still in the race, Romney will have to work hard to highlight his economic credentials and speak to specific issues that worry the American electorate.  What are those issues?  Jobs, taxes, retirement security, alternatives to $3 per gallon gas.  The irony is that Romney actually has the experience and credentials to address these problems, but he has to communicate that in a more effective manner.  That is not by going negative; it's by discussing the problems and solutions.

The lesson that candidates need to take out of Iowa for the remainder of the primaries as well as for the general election, is that Americans are highly concerned about the economy.  They want someone who is likable and who they can relate to, but more importantly they want someone who can relate to them.  The idea is that if someone can understand my problems, he will address them.

With this year's compressed primary schedule Iowa's message must be heeded:  don't tell me what's wrong with the other guy; tell me that you understand me and are going to solve my problems.  And, those problems are economic.

Amy D. Goldstein is an occasional contributor to  American Thinker.
What is the lesson out of Iowa?  It's the economy, stupid.

Yes, African-American Barak Hussein Obama -- a first-term Senator from Illinois -- won in a state that is 95 percent white.  As Juan Williams of NPR and Fox News said, there was no black or Hispanic vote to put him over the top.  But, more than that, Americans want change. 

Look at who voted for Obama -- younger people, single people, single women, people who make over $100,000 per year AND under $100,000 per year -- and union members.  Union members?  Weren't they supposed to be backing Edwards?  Obama campaigned as the candidate of change, and Americans who feel economically insecure supported him.

One the Republican side, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee won pretty handily.  Yes, Evangelicals and home-schoolers put him over the top.  But, what was his message?  I'm like you.  I grew up in Hope, Arkansas in a poor rural situation, and by gosh I'm running for President of the United States.  Huckabee is the anti-Romney.  Huckabee still worries about his finances, as do most of us.  Romney is not just rich, he's wealthy.  Romney grew up as the son of a CEO and governor.  We can understand Huckabee: his economic concerns, his health concerns, and his jokes. He's just as flawed as we are.  Romney has a perfect family, a perfect resume, and perfect hair.  We can't relate. 

Both Obama and Huckabee exemplify something else.  They embody the American dream.  We could be them, with some hard work and luck.  More importantly, they are not creatures of the political establishment.  They are not to blame for our problems -- they have our problems. 

Another theme coming out of Iowa: it's not about crime.  Romney's comparison ad casting Huckabee as soft on crime with 1033 pardons and clemencies while governor -- including 12 convicted murderers and one who went out to commit a heinous rape-murder -- didn't work.  He tried to repeat the infamous Willie Horton ad and it didn't resonate.  Why?  Because it's the economy, stupid.   

This election is not about crime or terrorism or the war or national security.  The only security that concern Americans -- and will continue to concern Americans in the coming months -- is economic security. That is why Edwards out-polls every Republican candidate in head-to-head polls.  His message is about having a better life -- about change for the better -- about the economy and against corporate greed.

Granted, if you combine the Thompson and Romney votes they outweigh the Huckabee votes, but as long as Thompson's still in the race, Romney will have to work hard to highlight his economic credentials and speak to specific issues that worry the American electorate.  What are those issues?  Jobs, taxes, retirement security, alternatives to $3 per gallon gas.  The irony is that Romney actually has the experience and credentials to address these problems, but he has to communicate that in a more effective manner.  That is not by going negative; it's by discussing the problems and solutions.

The lesson that candidates need to take out of Iowa for the remainder of the primaries as well as for the general election, is that Americans are highly concerned about the economy.  They want someone who is likable and who they can relate to, but more importantly they want someone who can relate to them.  The idea is that if someone can understand my problems, he will address them.

With this year's compressed primary schedule Iowa's message must be heeded:  don't tell me what's wrong with the other guy; tell me that you understand me and are going to solve my problems.  And, those problems are economic.

Amy D. Goldstein is an occasional contributor to  American Thinker.