Favorability

Democratic Edge on Issues Extends to Terrorism, Morality

Corruption, Iraq, terrorism rated most important issues by voters

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The strong Democratic tide sweeping the nation is evident in the latest USA Today/Gallup pre-election poll. Not only do Democrats enjoy a strong lead in likely voters' congressional vote preferences, they are rated as better at handling all eight issues tested in the poll. That includes advantages on normally strong Republican issues like terrorism and morality. Given Democrats' perceptual edge on all the issues measured in the poll, the relative priority voters attach to these is less important, but Iraq, government corruption, and terrorism rank as the top issues according to likely voters.

The Oct. 6-8 poll finds a majority of likely voters saying the Democrats in Congress would do a better job than the Republicans in Congress at handling healthcare, government corruption, gas prices, the economy, and the situation in Iraq. Just less than half say the Democrats would be better on immigration, moral standards, and terrorism.

The Democrats' net advantage on these issues stretches from a low of +5 percentage points on terrorism to a high of +39 points on healthcare.

Do you think the Republicans in Congress or the Democrats in Congress would do a better job of dealing with each of the following issues and problems? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

2006 Oct 6-8
(Likely voter results)


Democrats


Republicans


Dem
Advantage

%

%

Healthcare

64

25

+39

Corruption in government

51

28

+23

Gas prices

52

30

+22

The economy

53

37

+16

The situation in Iraq

52

36

+16

Immigration

49

33

+16

Moral standards in the country

45

36

+9

Terrorism

47

42

+5

Notably, this is the first time congressional Democrats have been rated as better on the terrorism issue than Republicans in the nearly five years Gallup has asked this question. Looking at the historical results among all Americans, Republicans had no less than a double-digit advantage on terrorism until this year. When Gallup asked the question in March, the Republican advantage had shrunk to four percentage points, before Democrats gained an edge on this poll (the 46% to 41% Democratic edge among all Americans is similar to the 47% to 42% edge among likely voters).

In the past, Gallup also found Republicans faring better than Democrats on the morality issue. Polls conducted during the midterm election years of 1998 and 2002 showed the Republicans in Congress rated as better at handling "moral values" than the Democrats in Congress by margins of 11 and 21 percentage points, respectively. In 1998, the margin in favor of Republicans on this issue was 46% to 35%, and in 2002 it was 46% to 25%.

In addition to asking likely voters to say which party would better handle each issue, the poll asked them to say how important each would be to their vote. Normally, these intentions give a sense of which party might have an edge heading into the election, by measuring which party is viewed as better able to handle the issues voters deem most important. However, with Democrats seen as better at handling all the issues, the rated importance is less relevant at this point in the campaign.

Nevertheless, the poll finds government corruption, Iraq, and terrorism are among voters' top issue concerns heading into the midterm elections -- about half of likely voters say each of these issues will be extremely important. The next tier of issues includes healthcare, the economy, and moral standards in the country, which are rated as extremely important by roughly 4 in 10 voters. Immigration and, in particular, gas prices rank at the bottom of the list.

How important will each of the following issues be to your vote for Congress this year -- will it be -- extremely important, very important, moderately important, or not that important? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

2006 Oct 6-8
(Likely voter results)

Extremely
important

Extremely/
Very important

%

%

The situation in Iraq

52

90

Corruption in government

50

87

Terrorism

49

85

Healthcare

42

78

The economy

39

81

Moral standards in the country

38

71

Immigration

35

67

Gas prices

28

56

The relative importance likely voters assign to the various issues differs according to their party affiliation. The situation in Iraq and government corruption are the top issues for Democrats, but a majority also says healthcare is extremely important to their voting calculus. For Republicans, terrorism is the most important issue by a wide margin, but moral standards and immigration are as important to them as the war in Iraq and government corruption. Moral standards and immigration are the least important in Democrats' minds.

Percentage Rating Issue as Extremely Important to Vote, by Party, Likely Voters

Democrats

Republicans

%

%

The situation in Iraq

57

Terrorism

60

Corruption in government

54

Moral standards

48

Healthcare

51

Immigration

46

The economy

47

The situation in Iraq

46

Terrorism

43

Corruption in government

45

Gas prices

34

Healthcare

29

Moral standards

31

The economy

27

Immigration

27

Gas prices

21

Note: Party groups include independents who express a leaning to that party

Swing voters -- defined as those who have not made a firm commitment to one party's candidate or the other -- show the same general rank ordering as committed voters. Aside from a few issues like government corruption and gas prices, swing voters assign less importance to all the issues than committed voters do.

Percentage Rating Issue as Extremely Important to Vote, Likely Voters

Swing Voters

Committed Voters

%

%

Corruption in government

49

The situation in Iraq

55

Terrorism

43

Corruption in government

51

The situation in Iraq

41

Terrorism

51

Healthcare

38

Healthcare

44

The economy

33

Moral standards

41

Immigration

31

The economy

41

Moral standards

30

Immigration

36

Gas prices

27

Gas prices

29

Note: Swing voters are defined as those who do not currently have a candidate preference or express a candidate preference but say they could change their mind between now and the election. Committed voters are those who express a candidate preference and say they will definitely vote for that party's candidate.



Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 622 likely voters, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 6-8, 2006. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Likely voters are identified using a series of questions measuring past voting behavior and current voting intentions. Based on past voting history in the United States, turnout in this year's midterm election is assumed to be 40% of the voting age population. The likely voter sample is weighted to reflect this.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/24961/Democratic-Edge-Issues-Extends-Terrorism-Morality.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030