[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/01/15/mi.guide/art.assembly.line.gi.jpg caption=" The struggling auto industry has been a drag on Michigan's economy."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - In Michigan, voters deem one issue more important than all others combined: the economy.
According to just-released exit polling, a majority of Michigan Republican primary voters - 55 percent - said the economy is the most pressing issue facing the nation. That compares to 18 percent who said Iraq, 14 percent who named illegal immigration, and 10 percent who pointed to terrorism.
That's not surprising: the state's economy is powered by the domestic automotive industry, which has struggled for years. Michigan's unemployment rate, 7.4 percent, is much higher than the national average of 5 percent.
The economy has easily been the most discussed issue on the campaign trail in Michigan. Mitt Romney, a onetime successful businessman, has taken aim at John McCain for saying many of the state’s lost jobs aren't likely to return, and that workers need to be re-trained for far different positions in new industries.
“I want to bring Michigan back," Romney said Monday. "I'm not willing to sit back and say, 'Too bad for Michigan. Too bad for the car industry. Too bad for the people who've lost their jobs; they're gone forever.'"
Meanwhile, McCain said over the weekend he would "be ashamed to tell the people of Michigan or South Carolina that all of these jobs are coming back."
"I won the New Hampshire primary because I told people the truth: what they wanted to hear, what they didn't want to hear. These people know that a lot of these jobs aren't coming back," he said.
CNNMoney.com: Michigan's economic woes on the ballot
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney