Earlier this month after reading some national stories suggesting the war was declining as an issue for voters this year, I looked to see if that was happening in North Carolina as well.
I found that it was- and the trend has continued in our most recent polling.
When we did a statewide general election poll in November 35% of people named it as their top issue. In December that went down to 30%. In our poll this week just 22% said it was the biggest thing.
Filling in the gap is the economy and jobs. It went from 19% in November to 28% in December to 39% in January.
What candidates are benefiting from this shift? It's actually helping the Republicans a little bit. Take the US Senate race for example. Elizabeth Dole leads Kay Hagan 44-37 among people who list the economy as their biggest concern and she leads Jim Neal 45-31. Those margins are smaller than her overall lead. But for people who list the war as their major issue, Hagan is preferred 44-38 and Neal is preferred 41-37. So Dole may not do as well on the economy as other issues, but she is doing very poorly on the war and will benefit as that becomes less important to voters.
Dole's lead comes largely from polling over 70% among people who are most concerned with moral and family values or immigration.
The same trend shows in our match ups for President. Democrats generally are leading Republicans on the economy in those- but not by as much as they're leading on the war.
You can look at the issues crosstabs on this most recent survey here.