What issues are on the minds of voters?
Over the last few months, President Barack Obama and candidates seeking the GOP nomination got off on the trail of social issues. Republicans actually hurt themselves on the contraceptive rule imposed by the Obama Administration, which allowed Democrats to begin using the “war on women” meme that dominated the news cycle for a couple of weeks.
More recently, Obama endorsed gay marriage at the state-level in an interview on Good Morning America after “evolving” on the issue over the last few years. While many may have viewed this as Obama finally coming around, it was more of a political move that his campaign team hoped would get Republicans off message. Oddly enough, they didn’t bite. Perhaps more surprisingly, voters didn’t either, despite support for same-sex marriage recently hitt an all-time high.
But Friday’s jobs report sent a reminder that the economy is still moving along at a snail’s pace. Even though some 69,000 jobs were created in May, that’s still nowhere near the 120,000 to 150,000 needed to just keep up with population growth. And with that, perhaps its time for a reminder of what Pew Research reported back in April, that economic issues are at the top of Americans’ concerns, well ahead of social issues:
With the looming Taxmageddon and fears of another recession rising, I doubt this will change much in the next couple of months, perhaps even until the fall. If Republicans hope to capitalize on Obama’s tepid numbers and the poor economy, they need to remember that economic issues come first in this election. If they get distracted again — for example, taking up an abortion bill the day before the jobs report came out, voters may begin to scratch their heads and realize that they aren’t taking the economic crisis seriously and respond accordingly.
It should also be a concern that the Pew reported just yesterday that the ranks of independent voters are growing, indicating the weariness of voters of wedge issues and polarization. People may disagree with Obama, but Republicans have to do a better job at messaging against him and his policies.