It's the economy, stupid
"It's the economy, stupid" is a slight variation of the phrase "The economy, stupid" which James Carville had coined as a campaign strategist of Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign against sitting president George H. W. Bush.
Carville's original phrase was meant for the internal audience of Clinton's campaign workers as one of the three messages to focus on, the other two messages being "Change vs. more of the same" and "Don't forget health care."
Clinton's campaign had advantageously used the then-prevailing recession situation in the US as one of the campaign's means 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.
In order to keep the campaign on message, Carville hung a sign in Bill Clinton's Little Rock campaign headquarters that read:
- Change vs. more of the same
- The economy, stupid
- Don't forget health care.
The phrase has become a snowclone 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!". In British political satire The Thick of It, It's the Everything, Stupid was the name of a book written by one of the characters; in a later episode the original phrase is used sarcastically by another character to deride a proposed campaign. In an episode of the TV series The West Wing, "the economy stupid" can be seen written on a whiteboard in Bartlet's campaign headquarters. In an episode of Weeds, "it's the economy, stupid" is a line said by a crazy man rambling about his free goat. Composer-lyrist Stephen Schwartz and bookwriter Winnie Holzman created their own version of the phrase while working on the hit musical Wicked: "It's the girls, stupid" to keep their plot focused on the musical's two female leads, Elphaba and Glinda. Another variant of the phrase, "It's the constitution, stupid" or "It's about the constitution, stupid", has been used by several parties in various election campaigns. It has appeared on bumper stickers against the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004, for the Ron Paul ticket in 2008, and has appeared in video ads for the Gary Johnson ticket in 2012.
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- Agiesta, Jennifer. Approval Highs and Lows. The Washington Post. 2007-07-24.
- Kelly, Michael (October 31, 1992). "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: The Democrats -- Clinton and Bush Compete to Be Champion of Change; Democrat Fights Perceptions of Bush Gain". The New York Times.
- Plumer, Bradford. It's the Deficit, Stupid!. Mother Jones. 2004-09-16.
- Ivins, Molly. It's the Corporation, Stupid. AlterNet. 2006-02-23.
- Falvey, Christopher J. It's the Math, Stupid. The VN/VO. 2005-01-03.
- It's the Voters, Stupid Time 2008-01-21
- The Thick of It Cast of Characters: Ben Swain BBC.
- Irregular Goods Cafe Press store Anti-Bush category
- The phrase is seen in the lightning flashes at 4:22