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Election 2016
Party Groups Agree on Importance of Big Election Issues
Election 2016

Party Groups Agree on Importance of Big Election Issues

Party Groups Agree on Importance of Big Election Issues

Story Highlights

  • Americans from both parties rate economy, jobs as important voting issues
  • Republicans, Democrats also agree on education, healthcare, national security
  • Climate change, minorities, government size spark differences

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Mirroring the top issue priorities of Americans as a whole, Republicans, independents and Democrats largely agree on the top issues that will affect their vote for president this fall. Education, the economy, jobs, healthcare and terrorism/national defense rank among the six most important voting issues for all three groups, with close to 80% or more rating each as extremely or very important.

Five Areas of Issue-Priority Agreement Among U.S. Party Groups
% Rating each extremely or very important to their vote for president
Democrats Independents Republicans
% % %
Education 92 85 80
The economy 91 90 95
Employment and jobs 91 87 91
Healthcare and the Affordable Care Act 88 79 81
Terrorism and national security 85 84 95
Gallup, May 18-22, 2016

At the same time, Democrats and Republicans have vastly different perspectives on three of 17 campaign issues rated in a recent Gallup survey. Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to say climate change and the treatment of minority groups will be key voting issues for them this fall. Republicans put much more emphasis than Democrats on the size and efficiency of government.

Sharpest Issue-Priority Disagreements Among U.S. Party Groups
% Rating each extremely or very important to their vote for president
Democrats Independents Republicans Difference, Democrats vs. Republicans
% % % pct. pts.
Climate change 72 44 25 +47
The treatment of minority groups in this country 86 64 48 +38
The size and efficiency of the federal government 47 64 79 -32
Gallup, May 18-22, 2016

The importance gap between Democrats and Republicans is particularly wide for climate change, with 72% of Democrats vs. 25% of Republicans rating it an extremely or very important issue to their vote this year -- a 47-percentage-point difference. There is a 38-point gap for the treatment of minority groups in the country, with 86% of Democrats vs. 48% of Republicans rating it highly important. And the gap is nearly as wide -- 32 points, but in the other direction -- for the size and efficiency of government, with 79% of Republicans vs. 47% of Democrats rating it as highly important.

Independents fall almost squarely between the two party groups on all three issues. These differences in the ways in which partisan groups look at priorities for the presidential candidates to discuss are generally similar to what they were in January, when Gallup last measured them.

The latest findings come from a May 18-22 Gallup survey in which U.S. adults were first asked to rate how important the candidates' positions on each of 17 prominent national issues will be to their vote for president this year. As Gallup reported previously, most of the issues at the top of the importance list are related to the economy and national defense. By contrast, the bottom eight touch heavily on social policy, as well as on trade and the environment.

Beyond the three issues that divide Americans most, Democrats place significantly more emphasis than Republicans do on four other areas: the distribution of income and wealth, government regulation of Wall Street and banks, education, and social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. Republicans put more emphasis on the federal budget deficit, immigration, taxes and national defense.

Party Groups' Ratings of Each Issue as Extremely/Very Important to Their Vote for President
Ranked by Democratic vs. Republican difference
Democrats Independents Republicans Difference, Democrats vs. Republicans
% % % pct. pts.
Climate change 72 44 25 +47
The treatment of minority groups in this country 86 64 48 +38
The distribution of income and wealth in the United States 76 64 51 +25
Government regulation of Wall Street and banks 66 60 51 +15
Education 92 85 80 +12
Social issues such as gay marriage and abortion 56 45 44 +12
Healthcare and the Affordable Care Act 88 79 81 +7
Employment and jobs 91 87 91 0
Gun policy 67 57 67 0
The economy 91 90 95 -4
Foreign affairs 72 72 78 -6
Trade with other nations 59 59 66 -7
Terrorism and national security 85 84 95 -10
Taxes 66 71 76 -10
Immigration 66 65 77 -11
The federal budget deficit 70 78 88 -18
The size and efficiency of the federal government 47 64 79 -32
Gallup, May 18-22, 2016

Bottom Line

Republicans and Democrats place differing emphases on the importance of the candidates' positions on climate change, the treatment of minority groups and the size and scope of government. Additionally, Democrats put more emphasis on a variety of other social and income equality issues, while Republicans put greater emphasis on certain national security and fiscal issues.

Despite these differences, Republicans and Democrats are united on their top priorities: the economy, jobs, healthcare, national defense and education. These issues represent a common denominator for the electorate that should make it easy for the candidates to know where to focus their attention this year. The candidates' ability to convince Americans that they have a plan or the skill to solve these problems could go a long way toward enhancing their appeal to a broad base of voters.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 18-22, 2016, with a random sample of 1,530 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/192353/party-groups-agree-import-big-election-issues.aspx
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