Politics

Economy, Terrorism Top Issues in 2004 Election Vote

Terrorism, Iraq more important to Republicans; domestic issues more important to Democrats

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- With the 2004 presidential election just over a year away, Americans tell Gallup that the economy and terrorism are the issues most likely to influence their choice for president next year. Republicans are more likely to say issues related to terrorism and Iraq will be extremely important to their vote in next year's presidential election, while Democrats are more likely to assign importance to domestic issues like the economy and jobs, both of which are consistent with the political parties' issue strengths.

Most Important Issues in Election 2004

A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Sept. 19-21, asked Americans to rate the importance of candidates' positions on 15 separate issues in influencing their vote for president in the next election.

The most important issues, according to the poll, are those related to the economy and the war against terrorism. Nearly half of all Americans, 49%, say that presidential candidates' stances on the economy and on terrorism will be extremely important to their vote next year. Creating or protecting American jobs and the situation in Iraq follow close behind in importance. Forty-six percent of Americans say each of these issues will be extremely important in determining their vote next year.

Other issues with slightly lower levels of importance include: education (45% say it is extremely important), healthcare (43%), the federal budget deficit (39%), Social Security (36%), taxes (36%), and Medicare (36%).

Further down the list comes the environment, with 30% saying it will be extremely important, and energy, with 27% saying it will be extremely important. The lowest rated issue on the list is policies toward gays and lesbians, with only 12% saying the candidates' positions on this issue will be extremely important to their vote.

Salience of Issues in the 2004 Presidential Election
(based on percentage saying "extremely important")
Sep 19-21, 2003

Partisanship and the Salience of Issues in 2004 Election

The poll results confirm that Republicans and Democrats attach significantly different levels of importance to a number of the issues.

  • Terrorism appears to be the issue that will dominate the minds of Republicans in their choice for president next November. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans say terrorism will be extremely important. The situation in Iraq is the second most important issue among Republicans, at 47%. The economy, at 45%, protecting or creating American jobs, at 42%, and education, at 42% follow next in the list.
  • Democrats are more likely to indicate that domestic issues will be important to their vote in the next election. The economy is the top-rated issue among Democrats, with 57% saying the candidates' stance on the economy will be extremely important to their vote. Among Democrats, the economy is followed by the situation in Iraq (51%), education (51%), healthcare (51%), the job situation (50%), and the federal budget deficit (50%). Terrorism, the most important issue for Republicans, is perceived as important by only 48% of Democrats.
  • Issues that are less important to both Republicans and Democrats include policies toward gays and lesbians, the environment, and energy.
  • The largest partisan gaps in the perceived importance of issues are seen for several key domestic issues. Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say the federal budget deficit, the environment, Medicare, healthcare, Social Security, the economy, and energy will be extremely important to their vote next year. Republicans are more inclined than Democrats to say terrorism will be extremely important to their vote.

Salience of Issues in the 2004 Presidential Election by Partisanship

(based on percentage saying "extremely important")

Republicans

Independents

Democrats

Difference Between Republicans and Democrats

%

%

%

%

Terrorism

57

45

48

9

Policies toward gays and lesbians

13

9

13

0

Foreign affairs

30

28

33

-3

The situation in Iraq

47

40

51

-4

Taxes

35

32

41

-6

Protecting/Creating American jobs

42

46

50

-8

Education

42

42

51

-9

Energy

21

27

32

-11

The economy

45

45

57

-12

Social Security

30

35

42

-12

Healthcare

36

40

51

-15

Medicare

27

35

45

-18

The environment

20

28

38

-18

The federal budget deficit

29

35

50

-21

Age Differences on 2004 Election Issues

The Sept. 19-21 poll also shows some intriguing differences between the views of younger Americans and older Americans.

  • Americans in the 18- to 29-year-old group tend to rate issues that would more directly affect their lives as the most important to their vote in the 2004 presidential election. At least half of all 18- to-29-year-olds say education (55%), protecting or creating American jobs (52%), and the economy (51%) will be an extremely important issue to their vote next November. Fewer than half of those aged 18 to 29 say terrorism, the situation in Iraq, healthcare, taxes, and the federal budget deficit will be an extremely important factor in their vote for president.
  • Among 30- to 49-year-olds, the top-rated issues are the economy and terrorism, each with a slight majority of respondents saying these will be important factors in their vote in the 2004 election. The situation in Iraq, jobs, education, and healthcare are also prominent issues to people in this age group, with slightly fewer than half saying these are extremely important.
  • The top issues among 50- to 64-year-olds, similar to those among the 30 to 49 age group, include terrorism, at 55%, the economy, at 50%, and the situation in Iraq, also at 50%.
  • Interestingly, Americans aged 65 and older are less likely than those in younger age groups to rate 9 of the 15 issues tested as extremely important to their vote next year. However, the most salient issues for people 65 and older are the federal budget deficit (43%), terrorism (40%), the economy (40%), the situation in Iraq (40%), and Medicare (40%).

Salience of Issues in the 2004 Presidential Election by Age
(based on percentage saying "extremely important")

18- to 29-year-olds

30- to 49-year-olds

50- to 64-year-olds

65+ year-olds

%

%

%

%

Education

55

47

43

34

Protecting/Creating American jobs

52

47

46

37

The economy

51

52

50

40

Terrorism

48

51

55

40

The situation in Iraq

43

48

50

40

Healthcare

41

45

46

37

Taxes

40

38

33

34

The federal budget deficit

39

39

33

43

The environment

34

30

30

22

Foreign affairs

32

33

31

23

Medicare

30

34

43

40

Social Security

30

34

46

36

Energy

25

28

31

25

Policies toward gays and lesbians

15

11

9

16

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,003 adults, aged 18 years and older, conducted Sept. 19-21, 2003. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 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.

Now I am going to read a list of some of the issues that will probably be discussed in next year's presidential election campaigns. As I read each one, please tell me how important the candidates' positions on that issue will be in influencing your vote for president -- extremely important, very important, somewhat important, or not important. How about -- [random order]?

2003 Sep 19-21
(sorted by "extremely")


Extremely important


Very important

Some-what important


Not important


No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

The economy

49

42

9

*

*

Terrorism

49

38

11

2

*

Creating American jobs ^

46

45

8

1

*

Protecting American jobs ^

46

44

9

1

*

The situation in Iraq

46

36

14

4

*

Education

45

43

11

1

*

Healthcare

43

42

13

2

*

The federal budget deficit

39

35

23

2

1

Social Security

36

43

18

3

*

Taxes

36

41

20

2

1

Medicare

36

40

21

3

*

Foreign affairs

31

40

25

3

1

The environment

30

40

27

3

*

Energy

27

44

26

2

1

Policies toward gays and lesbians

12

16

31

39

2

*Less than 0.5%

^

Asked of a half sample. Protecting Americans jobs asked of 519 national adults in form A; Creating Americans jobs asked of 484 national adults in form B.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/9337/Economy-Terrorism-Top-Issues-2004-Election-Vote.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030