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It's still the economy, stupid

February 29, 2012: 3:27 PM ET

Exit polls in state after state have confirmed what has long been assumed: The economy is issue #1.

Asked to identify the most important issue to them, voters have consistently ranked the economy and the budget deficit as their top concerns.

And in almost every case, the voters then reward the candidate they think will handle that issue best with an electoral victory.

Now sure, data is limited to one political party, but general polling seems to back up the exit polls.

On Tuesday, 55% of voters in Michigan said that the economy was their top concern, while 24% identified the budget deficit, 14% said abortion and 3% said illegal immigration.

And which candidate performed best with voters who listed the economy or budget deficit as their top concern? Mitt Romney, the winner of the primary, who captured 47% of those voters.

The story was much the same in Arizona, where 47% of voters said the economy was issue #1, and 30% chose the budget deficit. Among those voters, Romney won 50% and 41% of the vote, respectively.

It's an advantage the Romney camp is clearly trying to press.

"Interestingly, the people who said that the economy and jobs were their number one issue, they voted for me overwhelmingly," Romney said on Wednesday. "And that's one of the reasons I'm running."

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About This Author
Charles Riley
Charles Riley
Reporter, CNNMoney

Charles Riley lives and works in Hong Kong, where he covers markets, economics and other high-impact stories across Asia. He previously worked for CNNMoney in New York and CNN in Washington. He tweets @CRrileyCNN

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