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Americans say they'll vote with their wallets

The battered economy is the top issue for voters, and that isn't expected to change by November.

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By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer

In the next year, I believe the economy:
  • Is going to get worse
  • Is going to get better
  • Will be more of the same

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The slumping U.S. economy has become the top issue on voters' minds, according to a new poll and that concern is likely to carry on up through election day.

According to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Poll released Tuesday, 93% of voters say the economy is "extremely" or "very" important to their vote for president this November. 84% of the more than 900 registered voters surveyed from June 26 to 29 said the situation in Iraq was their top concern.

In January, the economy was virtually tied with the Iraq war as the top concern for voters.

"With the poor economic environment right now, it's not surprising at all," said Wachovia economist Mark Vitner.

As bad news out of Iraq has taken a back seat to dour economic news, Americans say the economy has become the issue that may decide the election in November, according to the survey.

Economic bad news continues to mount, with the S&P and Dow suffering their worst June since the Great Depression.

Adding to the pain, more than 324,000 jobs have been lost so far in 2008, and the mortgage and credit crises have crushed consumer confidence. Also, rising food and energy costs are hurting Americans in the pocketbooks.

Accordingly, 77% of those polled felt gas prices were "extremely" or "very" important to their vote, making fuel costs the third most important issue for American voters.

Economists say that the economic pain will not ease for voters come the November election.

"The next two quarters are likely to see a bit of an improvement, mainly because of the tax rebates, but there really isn't anything out there on the horizon that's going to change the economic landscape in a meaningful way," said Vitner. "Consumers are likely to be very concerned about the economy come election day."

That may be good news for Barack Obama.

"When the economy is bad, it tends to favor the party that's out of power," said Vitner. "It's going to be very difficult for the Republicans to take the White House." To top of page

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