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Gallup: Political Dysfunction Tops 2014 List of Voter Concerns

By    |   Friday, 02 January 2015 12:59 PM

For the first time in history, political dysfunction topped the list of issues of most concern to American voters, according to a Gallup survey released Friday.

Of the four issues of greatest concern to voters, 18 percent of respondents said that dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama, Republicans in Congress and general political conflict ranked number one, followed by the economy (17 percent), unemployment or jobs (15 percent) and healthcare (10 percent).

It was the first time since 2007 that the economy did not lead the list. From 2004 to 2007, Iraq was voters' top concern, and in 2002, terrorism was the leading issue.

The survey was based on interviews with more than 1,000 adults per month over the course of 2014 and had a margin of error of 1 percentage point.

While Congress and Obama have continued to be viewed disapprovingly in public opinion polls, the emergence of political dysfunction as the dominant problem facing the nation may be a result of the other issues receiving less attention.

"With unemployment and gas prices falling, the U.S. not being involved in any major wars and scaling back operations in Afghanistan, and no acts of domestic terrorism occurring, the factors that have caused Americans to converge on a single pressing concern in the past simply weren't present in 2014.

"Rather, as mentions of the economy and unemployment have dwindled since 2012, mentions of healthcare and government leadership have grown to join them, forming a set of comparably sized, moderate-level concerns that now define the public's view of what ails the nation," writes Gallup analyst Lydia Saad.

The fact that for the first time since 2001 no single issue earned an average of 20 percent of mentions could have ramifications heading into the 2016 elections, Saad says.

"The dispersion of public concern seen in 2014 may also have implications for the 2016 presidential election. Should it persist, the lack of a single defining public issue could make candidates' task of honing a message for the election more complex," she contends.

Despite the emergence of the Islamic State (ISIS), Russian aggression in Ukraine, and numerous terrorist attacks globally in 2014, terrorism and national security were two of the lowest three issues mentioned. Race relations, moral decline, and the federal debt all rated higher.

The level of voter disapproval with Congress is not surprising considering its average yearly rating has not exceeded 20 percent in six of the last seven years, Gallup reported last month.

In 2014, the average approval rating was 15 percent, which was a slight improvement on the record-low yearly average received in 2013.

Contributing to the negative feelings toward politicians and government officials may be the fact that Congress has had divided leadership in the last few years.

"In the past, including in 2009 and 2010 under unified Democratic control of Congress, and for most of 1995 through 2006 under unified Republican control, the majority party's supporters had a much more favorable opinion of the job Congress was doing," noted Gallup analyst Rebecca Riffkin.

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For the first time in history, political dysfunction topped the list of issues of most concern to American voters, according to a Gallup survey released Friday.
Gallup, Obama, GOP, political dysfunction
Friday, 02 January 2015 12:59 PM
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