The Most Important Issue to Independents
7:33 AM, Sep 22, 2010 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
What’s the one issue that independent voters most strongly demand that a candidate get right? According to a survey of 1,000 independents (and likely voters) recently conducted by Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen and commissioned by Independent Women’s Voice, the answer isn’t “national security,” “taxes,” “immigration,” “the size of government and its level of spending,” “putting a mosque near Ground Zero,” “the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” or “the stimulus and bailouts” — all of which were listed as options. Rather, the answer is “health care reform.”
Nearly half (48 percent) of all independent voters said that even if a candidate otherwise held perfect views (in the eyes of the voter) — even if they “agreed with him on all other issues” (italics added) — they still couldn’t vote for him “if [they] disagreed with him on health care reform.” (Another 13 percent weren’t sure whether they could abide such a costly error in judgment or not.)
And what must the candidate’s position on health-care reform be? For 83 percent of the respondents who said their vote would hang in the balance, the candidate must oppose Obamacare. So, according to the survey, if you support Obamacare, you’ve just lost 40 percent (83 percent of 48 percent) of the independent vote — before any other issue is even addressed.
Upon hearing this result, the 34 Democratic House members who voted against Obamacare must be breathing a sigh of relief that they’re not one of the 219 Democratic House members who voted for it. (No Democratic senator can breathe a similar sigh.) And they must be desperately hoping that their Republican opponents don’t force them to voice their position on repeal — for it’s hard to appear opposed to Obamacare when you don’t want to get rid of it.
For the record, here’s how independent voters ordered the eight issues in question (listed from least to most essential that candidates get them right):
8. Taxes (69% could forgive disagreements; 18% couldn’t)
7. Afghanistan and Iraq (60% could forgive; 26% couldn’t)
6. The Stimulus and Bailouts (60% could forgive; 27% couldn’t)
5. Immigration (54% could forgive; 32% couldn’t)
4. National Security (48% could forgive; 33% couldn’t)
3. Government Spending and Size (44% could forgive; 41% couldn’t)
2. The Ground Zero Mosque (41% could forgive; 46% couldn’t)
1. Obamacare (39% could forgive; 48% couldn’t)
From the Obama administration’s perspective, it's hard to imagine three worse issues occupying the medal-winning slots.