Sunday, June 21, 2009

Voters' top priorities shift

42% of North Carolina voters named the economy and jobs as their top issue on our poll this month, the lowest that number has been since last summer and perhaps an indication that people in the state think that the worst has passed of the current recession. The economy polled in the 60s for much of the fall campaign last year and as the percentage of voters listing it as their top issue increased so did the percentage of the vote Barack Obama received in our polls against John McCain.

The two issues gaining in concern as the economy has dropped are moral and family values, and education. In December moral and family values was the biggest concern for 11% of voters, and that's now up to 18%. That issue started gaining in our surveys this spring as several states moved toward legalizing gay marriage, and among Republicans in North Carolina now there's nearly a toss up with 32% saying the economy is their greatest concern and 30% saying it's moral and family values.

Education has seen an even bigger increase in voters naming it as their top issue since December, going from 8% to 17%. This has traditionally been a top priority for North Carolina Democrats and as concern for the economy has at least slightly subsided 22% of voters in that party now put it at the top of their lists. Bev Perdue's renewed focus on public education over the last week could help shore up her numbers with voters of her party, as she takes on an issue of concern to many of them.

Two issues not seeing strong increases in public concern, despite an intense focus on them right now, are taxes and health care. Despite the spirited debate in Raleigh over how much new taxation should be relied on to fix the state's budget hole only 5% of North Carolinians list that as their biggest concern, compared to 4% six months ago. And with debate over health care heating up on Capitol Hill just 7% of voters say it's their top issue, up slightly from 4% in December.

Full results here

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