The Economy Is Still The Biggest Issue For The Voters

The Economy Is Still The Biggest Issue For The Voters

WASHINGTON -- For all the talk about ISIS and Ebola, and all the political firestorms over the Affordable Care Act, most voters this year remain focused on the economy.

In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll of likely voters, 56 percent named the economy as one of the two issues most important to them. Health care, named by 35 percent, was a clear but relatively distant second choice, followed by immigration, "how things work in Washington" and foreign policy/terrorism. Three more topics -- social/women's issues, the environment and gun policies -- barely broke into the double digits.

Priorities diverged sharply between those supporting a Democratic candidate for Congress and those backing a Republican. While both groups overwhelmingly named the economy as a top issue, the Republican voters picked immigration and foreign policy as the second and third most important issues, with health care in fourth place. The Democratic voters, in contrast, rated health care nearly as important as the economy, with how things work in Washington, social issues and the environment following behind.

Voters under 30 were far more likely than their older counterparts to be concerned about the environment: 29 percent cited it as a top issue, compared to 10 percent or fewer in every other age group. Those with household incomes under $40,000 were considerably more likely to worry about health care than those with higher incomes. Women were slightly more likely than men to mention both health care and social issues.

Other findings from the poll:

Most voters agree on which issues dominate ad campaigns.
About two-thirds of voters remember seeing the economy and health care mentioned in political ads or campaign mailers. Around half also say they've seen immigration, social issues and how things work in Washington mentioned.

Analysis from Kantar Media/CMAG earlier this month found similar results, with both Democratic and Republican TV advertising in congressional races dominated by economic issues, like jobs or the budget, and health care. Environment and energy topics came in third.

But there's a partisan divide over each party's priorities.
Asked which two topics GOP candidates had discussed the most, voters again named the economy and health care. Very few thought that Republicans had spent much time on the environment, gun policies or social issues.

Supporters of the two parties, however, had different ideas on which of the top two issues the GOP had highlighted more. Over half of the likely Republican voters said the Republican Party was more focused on the economy, compared to 37 percent who said health care. The likely Democratic voters saw the GOP as paying about equal attention to both issues.

The Democratic Party, in contrast, was seen as focusing on social/women's issues: 43 percent of voters said that topic was among the Democrats' top concerns. Just 26 percent named the economy, and 23 percent identified health care.

The perception that Democrats have leaned heavily on social/women's issues was especially prevalent among groups that may not have been the intended targets of the message. Fifty percent of male voters and 51 percent of likely Republican voters said Democrats were focused on social issues, compared to just 35 percent of female voters and 36 percent of likely Democratic voters.

President Barack Obama isn't on the ballot, but he's still on voters' minds.
Nearly seven in 10 voters said they consider their congressional choice this year to be a referendum on President Obama and his policies, with many giving him a thumbs down. Forty-seven percent said they'll be voting against Obama, 22 percent said they'll be voting to support him, and 29 percent said he won't be a factor in their choice.

The likely Republican voters were nearly unanimous, with 86 percent saying they're against the president. The likely Democratic voters, though, were roughly evenly split between saying they'll vote to support Obama and saying he won't play a factor.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Oct. 28-30 among 802 U.S. likely voters using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.

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Before You Go

Iowa Senate
Tom Williams via Getty Images
Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) appears to be picking up momentum in her bid to turn retiring Sen. Tom Harkin's (D) seat from blue to red. The Democratic nominee, Rep. Bruce Braley, has continued to suffer from the backlash over his comments about Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) background as a farmer. Democrats, however, think they can paint Ernst as extreme by highlighting her comments about the minimum wage, nullification of federal laws, Medicaid recipients, personhood legislation and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Alaska Senate
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D) has worked to show he is independent from President Barack Obama's administration as he battles former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan, a Republican. The senator has opposed Obama's strategies to combat Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria and to expand background checks on gun sales. He has also disassociated himself from his party by remaining open to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.Republicans, on the other hand, have worked to tie Begich to the president, who is deeply unpopular in the state.
Colorado Senate
Mark Udall (Kent Nishimura via Getty Images)
Sen. Mark Udall (D) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) are locked in one of the closest races on this year's Senate map.Democrats have put Gardner on the defensive over his past support for personhood legislation, which would give legal rights to fetuses from the moment of fertilization. Republicans have continuously hit Udall over the Affordable Care Act, his energy policies and national security issues.
Arkansas Senate
Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is now the slight favorite in his race against Sen. Mark Pryor, the only Democratic member of his state's congressional delegation. The dialogue between the two candidates has moved from the farm bill and food stamps to the minimum wage and funding for pediatric research to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision.
Kansas Senate
The surprise race of this cycle is in Kansas, where Sen. Pat Roberts (R) may be edged out by independent Greg Orman, who insists he's disenchanted with both parties. Republicans are scrambling to paint Orman as a Democrat in disguise, but Roberts is still experiencing the fallout from a New York Times report that revealed that he doesn't maintain a permanent home in the state.
New Hampshire Senate
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) is fighting for re-election against former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).Democrats have done everything they can to ridicule Brown's candidacy, but President Barack Obama's unpopularity in the Granite State, as in other states, may hurt Shaheen on Nov. 4.
Louisiana Senate
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is a political survivor, having won her last three Senate races by narrow margins. She'll need another miracle if the nonpartisan primary on Nov. 4. goes to a Dec. 6. runoff, as all of the GOP's energy will presumably be focused on putting Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) over the top, especially if control of Congress' upper chamber hinges on this race.Landrieu would need to significantly boost turnout in cities such as New Orleans to eke out a runoff win. Her brother is the mayor of New Orleans, though, so that could help.
North Carolina Senate
Sen. Kay Hagan (D) has so far held on against a challenge from North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R). Republicans have gone from being gleeful with expectations that they would take the seat to glum, as Democrats have worked to tar Tillis with the actions of the state legislature over which he presided. Republicans have called Hagan ineffectual, while Democrats have consistently highlighted Tillis' record on education spending, voting rights and abortion rights.
Kentucky Senate
Win McNamee via Getty Images
One of the Democratic Party's pickup opportunities is in Kentucky, but that possibility seems to be receding as Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) has been dropping off in the polls against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). While McConnell's campaign has run ads touting his work on behalf of constituents and accused Grimes of being too close to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Grimes has distanced herself from others in her party. Though McConnell remains unpopular in the state, Grimes would need heavy turnout to surpass him.
Georgia Senate
The second of the Democrats' two pickup opportunities in red states is in Georgia, where nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn and businessman David Perdue (R) both hope to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R). Both candidates have well-known surnames: Nunn's father is popular former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), while Perdue's cousin is former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R). Democrats think they can turn the state purple with the help of groups like the New Georgia Project, led by Georgia state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D), which has collected tens of thousands of voter registration applications.

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