The economy is the No. 1 concern for a majority of voters heading into 2010's midterm elections, but the deficit comes in close behind, particularly with all-important independent voters, according to a new Gallup poll.

The economy tops a list of concerns, unsurprisingly, for 57 percent of voters, with health care (49%) and unemployment (46%) rounding out the top three. But when you examine the numbers among just independent voters, the federal budget deficit becomes the second-most important issue at 52 percent.

In what will be unsettling news for Democrats, "among those who say the deficit is extremely important to their vote, 56% would vote for the Republican candidate and 36% for the Democrat."

For Democrats, health care and unemployment round out the top three concerns. For Republicans, the deficit and terrorism tie for second place at 47 percent.

Gallup offers this on a possible health care backlash, although I'd argue that some of the concern about health-care reform is reflected in the high numbers concerned about the deficit:

Republican and independent voters are much less likely than Democratic voters to say healthcare will be important to their vote for Congress. Moreover, among voters who say healthcare is extremely important to their vote, roughly equal percentages say they would vote for the Democratic (47%) and the Republican (48%) candidate in their district if the election were held today.

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