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It's still the economy, stupid. A new poll confirms what many have known for a long time: Americans' personal financial situation will play a major role in how they vote in November.
Overall, 12 percent of respondents in a new Bankrate.com survey said that their financial situation was the single most important factor when voting. An additional 47 percent of people said their financial situation was one of several important factors they plan on taking into consideration when voting this November. That means that just fewer than six in 10 people would use their financial situation as a determining factor when voting.
Although many Americans will be voting with their bank accounts in mind, the research found that the balance of power is not shifting much one way or the other. In fact, the same number of people, 21 percent, said Mitt Romney would be as favorable for their economic situation as President Barack Obama would be if he was re-elected. Half of respondents said both candidates would have little effect either way, while 8 percent said they didn’t know who would be best.
"How Americans feel about the economy and their own finances will be central to the election on Nov. 6," said Claes Bell of Bankrate.com, a distributor of financial information that conducted the research. "While unemployment will probably be above that 7.2 percent historical benchmark when the election takes place, the key question will be whether Americans are comfortable with the progress that has been made since the economy took a turn for the worse."
Based on history, though, the odds would seem to favor Mitt Romney. Franklin Roosevelt was the last sitting president to win re-election with a national unemployment rate above 7.2 percent in 1940, according to the Bankrate report. According to the June 2012 United States Bureau of Labor Statistics report, unemployment figures stood at 8.2 percent. Despite those facts, it appears that the election will go down to the wire.
"Close to 3 million jobs have been recovered since October 2009, and Bankrate.com's Financial Security Index hit an 18-month high last month, but some recent indicators have been less positive," Bell said. "At this point, the election seems too close to call."
The research was based on the responses of 1,000 adults. The research was conducted by Princeton Data Source for Bankrate.