Political dysfunction edges economy as top voter concern

Politicians topped the list of voter concerns in 2014, according to a survey released Friday from Gallup.

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It’s the first time that concern over government leadership has ever taken the top spot on the list, beating out voter concerns about the economy, unemployment and healthcare in 2014.

Eighteen percent of people in the survey said the government, Congress and politicians were their top concern, followed by the economy at 17 percent, unemployment at 15 percent and healthcare at 10 percent.

The economy had been the number one concern for voters in each poll from the last six years, but good news on the financial front has pushed the issue to the back of voters’ minds. November was one of the strongest months in years for job growth.

The Gallup survey shows that there isn’t a defining issue for voters, as candidates begin preparing for the 2016 election cycle.

Sitting at just 18 percent, voter concerns over government leadership is the lowest figure for an issue at the top of the list in more than a decade, indicating that voter worry about a diverse group issues.

That’s in stark contrast to 2009, when 40 percent said the economy was their top concern, or 2007, when 33 percent said it was the War in Iraq.

“The lack of a single defining public issue could make candidates' task of honing a message for the election more complex,” Gallup analyst Lydia Saad wrote in her analysis of the poll.

With voter frustration aimed primarily at Capitol Hill, it could make life for incumbent lawmakers up for reelection very difficult.

Voters took out their frustration with President Obama in 2014 by sending a number of Democratic incumbents in Senate races packing. Republicans ultimately won a 54-46 majority in the upper chamber.

In 2016, with more than a third of U.S. senators up for reelection, it will be Republicans on the defense. Twenty-four of the 34 senators that are up for reelection next year are Republicans.

Gallup’s survey was based on interviews with more than 1,000 adults a month over the course of 2014 and has a margin of error 1 percentage point.