Foreign Policy Still Most Important to Voters

According to Mike Boyer, writing in the Foreign Policy blog, the journal’s eponymous issue — foreign policy — is still what matters most to American voters.

Voters are still very much in a Sept. 11th mindset. Clinton won last night in large part by beating Barack Obama two to one among voters who made their decision within the last three days of the race. And she did that by attacking his preparedness to handle national security, not the subprime crisis. Most notably via the now-infamous, and apparently effective, “It’s 3:00 A.M….” ad.

As I’ve argued elsewhere, readiness in foreign policy is not of course limited to the ability to respond to the crisis at the other end of this proverbial phone call. Nonetheless, Boyer’s point is made on firm ground — the “reaction” context seems to be what most voters base their judgments of candidates’ foreign policy on. And with both Clinton and Republican John McCain poised to come after Obama hard on the issue of concrete foreign policy experience, Boyer’s formulation of this year’s campaign dynamics is particularly apt: “Like it or not, it’s a foreign-policy election.”