Pretty much every month for the last two years we've asked voters the same question about what their top issue is.
The economy has gone from being the choice of 19% of voters in the state in October 2007 to 64% in our most recent poll last week.
The primary issue that has decreased as a major concern for North Carolinians in response, not surprisingly, is the war in Iraq.
What I find interesting is how one major conservative issue has tanked, but the other hasn't.
In October 2007 10% of voters in the state listed immigration as their biggest concern when deciding what candidates to vote for. Since then it's gone to 9% in January 2008 to 5% in May 2008 to 4% in September 2008 to 3% in January 2009. It's pretty much ceased to exist as an issue at the top of voters' lists.
Think about it. When Barack Obama said last fall in North Carolina that the children of illegal immigrants should be able to attend community colleges it didn't do him a lick of political harm, even as Kay Hagan and Bev Perdue had scrambled earlier in the year to get on the 'right' side of the issue politically.
While immigration has collapsed as a major issue, moral and family values are going strong as something a certain segment of voters in the state says is most important to them. In October 2007 it was tops for 13% of the electorate, it remained 13% in January 2008, saw a small dip to 12% by May of last year, and has settled in at 10% for January 2009 and September 2008. That's a much more modest decline as the economy has taken center stage.
I guess for some voters having immigration as your biggest issue is a luxury that can be afforded only when the economy is relatively strong. But for the roughly tenth of the population whose overwhelming concern is God, guns, and gays that passion is recession proof.