WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney leads John McCain days before a potentially pivotal Republican primary in Michigan, with Romney's business experience and home-state ties apparently helping in a state where the economy is taking center stage, according to a new McClatchy-MSNBC poll.
The rise of the economy as an issue and Romney's new strength after two losses underscored how volatile the campaign has become as the party grapples to find a new leader and direction for the post-Bush era.
No winner yet has gained a bounce into the next contest, and in Michigan, 11 percent of likely primary voters were still undecided, a bloc big enough to swing the vote in any direction. Even among those who say they support a candidate, 39 percent said they still could change their minds.
Likely voters in Michigan rank the economy and jobs their top concern, well above some of the other issues that had dominated much of the Republican debate nationally for months, such as national security and terrorism, taxes and government spending, moral issues, and illegal immigration.
That's little surprise in a state with an ailing auto industry and the nation's highest unemployment rate. But it also could be a sign of a shifting political landscape as the rest of the country also starts to see warning signs of an economic slump.