PRINCETON, NJ -- When asked which issues will be most important in determining their vote for president in next year's election, Americans by a wide margin say the war in Iraq, with more than one in three mentioning the war. Other key issues include the economy, healthcare, and illegal immigration. Iraq has diminished somewhat as the top issue over the course of the year, while there has been a slight increase in the reported importance of immigration. The poll finds slight variations by partisanship and region in regard to which issues will be most important in influencing votes.
The Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2007, poll asked Americans to name, in their own words, what will be the most important issues they will take into account when deciding whom to vote for in next year's presidential election. Thirty-six percent of Americans say Iraq, with the economy (16%), healthcare (15%), and illegal immigration (10%) mentioned next most often. Between 3% and 6% of Americans mention homeland security or military defense, taxes, the honesty and integrity of the candidate, abortion, domestic issues, Social Security reform, and international affairs.
The full results to the question are in the accompanying graph.
In the three times Gallup has asked the question this year, the war in Iraq has consistently been the dominant issue in the public's eyes. But the percentage mentioning the war has gradually declined from 42% in April to 36% in the new poll. There has also been a slight uptick in illegal immigration's importance, from 5% in April and October to 10% now. Ratings of the economy and healthcare have not shown much significant change this year.
Iraq ranks as the top voting issue for Republicans, independents, and Democrats. However, Democrats (46%) are much more likely than independents (34%) or Republicans (29%) to mention Iraq. Democrats are more likely than the other party groups to mention healthcare. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to mention illegal immigration (17% to 3%), homeland security and terrorism (17% to 4%), and abortion (6% to less than 0.5%).
The three leading issues for Democrats are the war, healthcare, and the economy, while for Republicans, the leading issues are the war, illegal immigration, homeland security and terrorism, and the economy. Independents most frequently mention Iraq, the economy, healthcare, and immigration.
The war in Iraq is the top vote issue in next year's election across all four major regions of the United States. But those residing in the East and Midwest are more likely than those living in the South and West to mention the economy as a key issue in determining their vote for president. Those residing in the West mention illegal immigration more frequently than those in other parts of the country.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,006 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error 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.