Of course Michiganders, of all people, would be worried about the economy, but no American state or region is immune from the woes that are threatening to make 2008 a penny-pinched year. Mitt Romney won a clear victory in Michigan's Republican primary Tuesday, and though some of that had to do with his being the son of a favorite son, he garnered strong support from those who said the economy was the most pressing issue. Among that group, he won 42 percent to 55 percent of those voting, according to exit polls.
He promised special support for Michigan if he is elected, and he spoke as though he could somehow turn back the clock. Credible or not - and we tend to think it isn't - this line clearly had appeal in a hard-hit state where voters fear the local economy hasn't hit bottom yet. His chief opponent, John McCain, offered straight talk about leaving the manufacturing economy behind; he came in a distant second.
Looking ahead, it's not hard to suppose that the economy will become a bigger and bigger weight on voters' minds as the November election approaches - if the forecasts that seem to come in every day from every sector turn out to be accurate. Michigan is uniquely dependent on the ailing automotive industry, but it nonetheless may be a harbinger of the battles that lie ahead.
It is about the economy - and about globalization and corporate downsizing and the erosion of home equity even among those who steered well clear of subprime mortgages. Presidential candidates who don't engage this concern won't prosper, but American voters would do well to watch out for those who pander to their fears without any realistic hope of following through.