Posted by Brad @ 12:03 pm on April 24th 2012

What Voters Care About

Hint: it is not social issues. In fact, abortion, the #1 rated social issue, is only the 16th most important issue to voters at large, with 39% calling it “very important”—and that’s 39% that includes pro-choicers.

Mitch Daniels, when he proposed calling a truce on social issues, wasn’t making a values judgement—he was making a practical one. And guess what? He was right.


  1. I don’t see civil liberties, excessive/unitary executive authority, and the surveillance state are not mentioned as well. Guess we should calla truce on those too.

    Comment by Jack — 4/24/2012 @ 8:53 pm

  2. A fair point, I suppose – and I’d certainly agree that civil liberties are not a voting issue in this country. But your larger point is certainly true – social conservatives may not necessarily care whether social issues are popular or not. Right is right.

    However, for most Republican politicians who may not necessarily fall into the “true believer” category, this kind of evidence is important, I think. Primaries are their main boogeyman, which act a bit different (but not as much as you’d think, and somewhat less than advertised), but still, for politicians looking for issues that can appeal to the right’s base as well as a centrist electorate, there’s no question that they would be better served staking it out on economic rather than social grounds. As, you know, Daniels said.

    Comment by Brad — 4/25/2012 @ 4:45 pm

  3. I supposed. But voters caring about something as nebulous as the economy or jobs or several others categories up there does not translate into a definable set of tests for them to decide on a candidate. they can justify whatever there gut tells them by some vaguely felt sense that candidate X cares about the economy. Gays and abortion on the other hand allow voters to have clear measures by which to contrast candidates. They serve two purposes: as moral compass points despite not actually being high on the supposed priority list, and as signalling devices for how conservative or liberal a candidate it, or at least the brand of conservatism/liberalism. From those positions, voters extrapolite other ideas, right or wrong.

    Comment by Jack — 4/26/2012 @ 7:16 pm

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