The Issues that Voters Think Are Important

The latest Rasmussen Poll shows that Tweedle Dum (Spend Mo’ Money) holds a narrow, three-point lead over Tweedle Dee (Spend Lots Mo’ Money). The race is narrowing, and Tweedle Dim (Spend Mo’ Money and Raise Taxes, Too) remains a non-factor with a mere five percent tally.

Of greater interest to me is the ranking of the issues that the survey of 500 likely voters thought were most important. The issues are (drum roll, please)….

Economy – 28 %
Health care – 15 %
Education – 14 %
Taxes – 11 %
Transportation – 8 %
Immigration – 7 %
Same-Sex Marriage – 6%
Gun Ownership Laws – 5%
Abortion – 3 %

Bottom line: The vocal Democratic Left and Republican Right may be fixated on cultural wedge issues, but Virginia voters aren’t. Virginians are concerned about pocketbook issues, with the economy (jobs, wages, salaries, entrepreneurial opportunities) ranking at the top. Health care comes in second, with education and taxes trailing behind.

Transportation, the signature issue of Sen. Russ Potts (er, I mean Tweedle Dim), the obsession of the Virginia state Senate and the desideratum of special interest groups, dragged in with only 8 percent. It’s hard to swallow, but I’ll admit it: Taxes, my pet obsession scored only No. 4 on the list, and the poll indicated that 46 percent said that the 2004 tax increases were good for the state.

Clue to the candidates: If you want to win over voters, start talking about economic development and health care!

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  1. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    What is says to me is that somebody needs to underline the threat to our economy posed by congestion and other transporation issues — a link that most voters won’t make unless somebody connects the dots.

    At the end of the day, in my experience, people vote for people they like and trust. And the polls the politicians are looking at get into these issues in far more depth. Some of those people listing “taxes” as an issue want them higher, some lower, and this doesn’t help much dividing that. Those issue rankings are also driven by the news media and coverage of Katrina would make one concerned about the economy.

  2. Health care is THE economic issue. Reports this week stste that healthinsurance is now so expensive that the number of businesses offering health care has dropped by ten per cent – from 70% to 60%. Most businesses that offer health care are now over 200 employees, and private health insurance is now over $10,000/year.

    Health problems are the leading cause of bankruptcy, and we are not even considering long term aging care.

    Steve is right, too, of course. Reports this week also noted that retail sales are down as a result of rising gas prices.

    Also, the Post reported that affordable housing units in the District dropped by 12,000 units this year.

    It is getting so you can’t afford to live in the city, and can’t afford to drive in the burbs, and if you get sick, you can’t afford to live.

    One way to boost the economy is to get health care off the backs of small business, but of course, that would mean you would have to raise taxes.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Talk the economy and health care?

    Nah. Politicians that try to talk those issues in any serious way lose: they lose because they are too complex, and complexity is both boring and dangerous. The more complicated a plan is, the more people find room to disagree with this or that particular policy idea. If campaigns and bloggers alike can lie so ridiculously about simple issues, how to do you think they’d do with a huge healthcare plan? The vast vast majority of policy debate is not like Bacon’s, and even if it was, most voters wouldn’t listen to it. Saying that you think healthcare is important on a poll is one thing. Getting people TOO the polls takes getting them all riled up about abortion, education cuts, immigrants, and so on.

    Healthcare is definately THE policy issue of our times though.

  4. Everybody always says they are worried about the economy and health care.
    No one is going to tell someone on the phone they are voting for guns ot gay marriage or the death penalty.
    Even so, thats what people have to vote on b/c there is nothing else that is obvious in the differences.
    Sure Kilgore will be more pro-business, but thats about it.
    Elections come down to cultural issues b/c those are the issues people can differentiate the candidates on.

  5. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    These polls are interesting, but not instructive. They don’t tell anyone what to do or not. Also, the categories are too broad to really get the pulse of voters.

    “If I was you” (properly pronounced if-EYES-U in SC) and a politician, I’d look and see if my majoritarian positions on each of those concerns added up to 51% of the voters.

    Elections are Candidate, Campaign and Issues. Gotta have all three better than the opponent to win. Failure in one can be decisive.

  6. Kilgore is more pro-business??? GOP Hokie, you must have missed when the business community jumped off the GOP ship 4 years ago.

  7. CosmicMojo Avatar

    I’ve heard conservatives talk A LOT and LOUDLY about those bottom issues: immigration, abortion, same sex marriage. Very interesting to see that most people really don’t care about those rare issues that don’t apply to their real life.

    I can’t say I’ve hard liberals talk up those issues as defining who they are the way conservatives have. Most liberal talk about those low-rating issues has been defensive or mainly to direct attention to REAL substantive issues that most Virginia’s face. The economy, education, healthcare. There you’ve got your “liberal holy trinity.”

    I am glad to reaffirm that the liberals are addressing the issues MOST important to Virginians.

  8. criticallythinking Avatar

    “Talking About” is not the same as “addressing”.

    And “addressing” is not the same as “fixing”.

    Here is my solid conservative platform:
    1) Fully fund our children’s education.
    2) Grow the economy
    3) Ensure access to quality health care for all Virginians.

    See, the problem with these issues isn’t that nobody talks about them, it’s that they are issues where the question is policy, not goals.

    People disagree about whether abortion should be legal, whether taxes should be higher or lower, whether the government should pardon or deport illegal immigrants.

    Most people don’t disagree about whether our children shoudl receive a quality education, whether people should get good health care, or whether the economy should grow or shrink.

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