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"It's the economy, stupid" was a phrase in American politics widely used during Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush. For a time, Bush was considered unbeatable because of foreign policy developments such as the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf War. The phrase, coined by Clinton campaign strategist James Carville, refers to the notion that Clinton was a better choice because Bush had not adequately addressed the economy, which had recently undergone a recession.
In order to keep the campaign on message, Carville hung a sign in Bill Clinton's Little Rock campaign headquarters that said:
- Change vs. more of the same
- The economy, stupid
- Don't forget health care.
Although the sign was intended for an internal audience of campaign workers, the phrase became something of a slogan for the Clinton election campaign. Clinton's campaign used the recession to successfully unseat George H.W. Bush. In March 1991, days after the ground invasion of Iraq, 90% of polled Americans approved of President Bush's job performance. Later the next year, Americans' opinions had turned sharply; 64% of polled Americans disapproved of Bush's job performance in August 1992.
The phrase is repeated often in American political culture, usually starting with the word "it's" and with commentators sometimes using a different word in place of "economy." Examples include "It's the deficit, stupid!" "It's the corporation, stupid!" "It's the math, stupid!" and "It's the voters, stupid!"