Americans identifymost important issues

By Jon Dougherty

Lending validity to those who say this year’s presidential election
is about more than a single — or a few — key issues, most Americans,
in a new poll, have picked at least a dozen major issues they feel are
important to them.

According to Portrait of America,
at least 60 percent of likely voters said the economy, education and health care are the top three issues they feel are important this election year, followed by elimination of government waste, government ethics, crime and taxes.

Likely voters said Gore was closer to their views on 4 of the 12 top issues, while Bush was also closer on 4 of 12 other issues. The remaining four are a toss-up, POA analysts said.

On issues that are considered “very important” to them, respondents said Gore and Bush were again evenly split, this time with five issues apiece; the two remaining top issues are again a toss-up.

“Of the 28 issues we polled about, affirmative action and anti-trust policy were the only two considered very important by less than 30 percent of likely voters,” researchers said.

POA said the surveys were conducted during the Democratic National Convention and could reflect a modest Gore bounce. The surveys will be repeated each week, however, between now and the Nov. 7 election.

Of the

28 issues
about which likely voters were asked, the economy (78 percent), education (74 percent), health care (74 percent), government waste (73 percent) and government ethics (68 percent) constituted the top five.

Rasmussen Research conducted the telephone surveys of 4,208 “likely voters” between Aug. 14 and Aug. 20. Individual survey respondents answered questions about 6 of the specific issues listed in the table. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

Meanwhile, as of late Thursday, POA analysts said in the latest 3-day average Bush has 43.8 percent, Gore has 40.5 percent, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader has 3.0 percent, Reform’s Pat Buchanan has 1.9 percent, Libertarian Harry Browne has 0.7 percent, and the Constitution Party’s Howard Phillips has 0.3 percent.