Political strategist James Carville said it, candidate Bill Clinton believed it and loyal Democrats have chanted this mantra ever since.
And all the people said: "It's the economy, stupid."
But what if an elite team of Democrats ventured outside the Beltway to talk to rural and red-zone voters in Arkansas, Wisconsin, Colorado and Kentucky and learned that the economic bottom line was no longer the political bottom line?
Focus-group researchers from the Democracy Corp in Washington, D.C., found that voters in Middle America are worried about Iraq and they are mad about rising health costs. That's good for Democrats. Many of them fiercely oppose abortion on demand and gay marriage. That's good news for Republicans. But the researchers also mapped a political fault line that cuts into the soul of Middle America.
Terry Mattingly (www.tmatt.net) is senior fellow for journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. He writes this weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service.
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