Voters say economy is the top issue and favor Republicans' approach to improving it

07/22/2010 09:42 PM

With Kentucky’s unemployment rate still in double-digits, more than half of respondents to the statewide cn|2 Poll said they consider the economy and job creation most important in shaping their vote in the U.S. Senate race.

And those likely voters surveyed said Republicans held an edge over Democrats in addressing the economy, the poll showed. Forty percent of respondents said they believed the GOP offered a better approach while nearly 36% picked the Democrats. Another 14% said neither party, and 9.3% were undecided, the survey of 803 likely voters showed.

The cn|2 Poll was conducted between July 19 and 22 by Braun Research — a Princeton, New Jersey-based firm. The survey has a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points. Click here to see the details of the results.

Taken together, the results of those questions suggest that it’s a tough time to be an elected official, and particularly for Democrats.

“It just confirms that the frustration over the behavior of government generally is not fading and that I think is very telling,” said Steve Robertson, chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky. “Generally, I think all incumbents are feeling a little pain. In Kentucky, it seems much more focused on the Democrats, especially west of I-65.”

The cn|2 Poll showed that the 1st congressional district, which covers far western and southern Kentucky, was the toughest for Democrats. Only 27.5% of respondents from that area said Democrats had the best approach to the economy and half of those polled from the 1st district said they strongly disapproved of the job President Barack Obama was doing.

Dan Logsdon, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said Democrats and Obama, in particular, have “taken a beating” over the economy even though the recession began during Republican President George W. Bush’s term.

“It’s been a slow and painful recovery, and with the Democrats being in power, we’re going to bear the brunt of that until the jobs start turning around,” he said.

Here are the top issues voters said are important to them as they consider how to vote in the Nov. 2  U.S. Senate race:

  • The economy/job creation: 51.5%
  • Health care: 18.6%
  • Budget deficit/national debt: 10.2%
  • War in Iraq/Afghanistan: 5.8%
  • Immigration: 3.1%
  • The environment/energy: 1.1%
  • Other: 3.7%
  • Unsure: 6.0%

While both candidates have referenced the economy and jobs, Republican Rand Paul has made the budget deficit and national debt the centerpiece of his platform starting in the GOP primary when he harnessed the support of the tea party movement.

Democrat Jack Conway has touted his proposal for a new tax credit to companies that add jobs as a way to spur the economy.

Both candidates have said they would favor making permanent the tax cuts passed during Bush’s tenure.

Paul Braun, president of Braun Research, said tracking how voters’ response to this question might change over the next three months as the Nov. 2 election nears will be instructive. Specifically, he said he’d be interested to see whether the number of those picking “budget deficit/national debt” increase because Rand Paul has been so closely associated with warning of the dangers of high debt levels.

“That will be a very leading indicator,” Braun said. “Especially if the economy starts to improve and people get a little more complacent about the economy and unemployment rate, then I think everyone is going to start piling on the debt issue.”

- Ryan Alessi

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