Poll: Economy Replaces Iraq As Election Top Issue

This story was written by Sandra Flores, The Eagle
Young voters who previously indicated their top political issue as the Iraq War are becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of a recession, according to the results of several recent polls released by Rock the Vote.

The most recent poll shows 17 percent of people under the age of 30 are most concerned about the economy and jobs, with Iraq coming in second at 12 percent. Health care and education followed closely behind. Rock the Vote, a nonprofit organization advocating for political participation among young people, conducted the poll in February. A poll the organization conducted in November 2007 showed young voters ranked the economy as third on their list of issue priorities, behind Iraq and health care, according to

Tom Hertz, a professor in the American University department of economics, said the economy has recently "pushed the war off the front pages," especially among young voters.

"The war affects a fairly small number of young people ... so people might be more worried about a job, since there's no draft," he said.

Bharat Krishnan, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs, said the slowing economy is a concern for young people who are not only worried about health care, but are "concerned with paying off student loans and are having difficulty finding a job in today's job market."

Hertz advised students concerned about the economy to stay in school, though it may be difficult because of credit market problems in the student-loan market.

Colleen Scanlon, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she believes the media "spins everything" and are causing unnecessary fears of a return to conditions seen during the Great Depression.

Hertz said media sources do influence people's priorities, but added that the recent concerns about the economy may be justified. He said he believes "the financial problems on Wall Street are by all accounts the biggest financial crisis we've seen since the Great Depression."

However, panic is not necessary, he said.

"The Federal Reserve and other forces are working hard to prevent this financial crisis from turning into ... a real crisis," Hertz said.

Scanlon said she is still primarily concerned about the Iraq war because the nation's leaders can change its course -- something she said might not be the case with the economy.

Krishnan, whose good friend may be going to Iraq next year, said he feels the failing economy and the Iraq war are "intrinsically linked," citing the war costs as a contributor to the U.S. deficit.
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