Given a choice, 36% of Republicans say business and the economy are the most important political issues to them, up from 32% in March, and now on par with the percentage who say the same about government spending and power. Fewer Republicans choose either social issues and moral values or national security and foreign policy as their top political priorities.
This is really not surprising – it is the economy, stupid. The GOP nominee, whoever it may be, may very well ride to the Presidency on the back of Obama’s poor economic performance.
However, there should be a warning attached to this poll since polling occurred prior to the Osama Bin Laden killing operation.
Let’s look at the demographics of the GOP and the important issues:
Interesting that younger Republicans are more concerned about social issues than their older counterparts. I find this hard to believe so this may be an outlier in the sample.
Younger Republicans, those aged 18 to 29, are more likely than their elders to choose social/moral issues as their top priority, and less likely to choose government spending and power. This is somewhat counterintuitive. Younger Americans in previous Gallup research have been the most likely to rate the current state of moral values as excellent or good, and most likely to say moral values are getting better rather than worse.
And, who do social issue Republicans choose as their Presidential nominee?
So, what are the implications of this polling?
- Mike Huckabee has strength within the GOP and will now likely seek the Presidency.
- Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who has mentioned a “truce” on social issues, might very well do well emphasizing economic issues as the social issues do not appear to be a prominant concern for Republicans.
Republicans clearly have two main political concerns that now provide the prism through which they view next year’s presidential election — government spending/power and the economy. They are significantly less likely to say either social issues or national security and foreign policy are their top concerns.
Republicans who prioritize business and the economy are more likely to be moderate or liberal in their ideology than the average Republican. They do not have a strongly differentiated choice for president, spreading their support among Romney, Huckabee, and Palin, in that order.
Those who prioritize government spending and power are more likely than average to be conservative, and split their early support between Huckabee and Romney. Palin does much less well among this group, barely edging out Texas Congressman Ron Paul by one point.
More than a fourth of Republicans whose top priority is social/moral issues choose Huckabee for their party’s presidential nomination, the highest proportion of support for a candidate among any of the four issue groups. Social issue Republicans also like Palin, while giving only single-digit support to any other candidate.
The small group of Republicans whose priority focus is on national security and foreign policy split their support among Palin, Huckabee, and Romney.