Forget foreign policy. This election is about the economy.

Last night's debate won't move the needle. Because for better or worse, voters are laser-focused on jobs and the economy, not Iran and Benghazi

Edward Morrissey

No matter who you think won last night's presidential debate, it's unlikely to have much bearing on the presidential election. In the end, voters simply don't care about the issues of foreign policy anywhere near as much as they do about their own economic security.

That, by the way, is the norm for American presidential elections. In the last four presidential cycles, only 2004's matchup between incumbent George W. Bush and John Kerry produced a foreign-policy issue with more mentions as "the most important problem" facing the nation among Gallup's respondents than a domestic-policy issue. Not surprisingly, voters expressed considerable concern over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, two major campaign issues in that cycle, with 23 percent listing wars as among their most pressing problems in the final month before the election. The economy in general only got mentioned by 21 percent of respondents, although 12 percent also mentioned unemployment.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Edward Morrissey

Edward Morrissey has been writing about politics since 2003 in his blog, Captain's Quarters, and now writes for His columns have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Post, The New York Sun, the Washington Times, and other newspapers. Morrissey has a daily Internet talk show on politics and culture at Hot Air. Since 2004, Morrissey has had a weekend talk radio show in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and often fills in as a guest on Salem Radio Network's nationally-syndicated shows. He lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, and his two granddaughters. Morrissey's new book, GOING RED, will be published by Crown Forum on April 5, 2016.