WBZ-UMass Poll: What Issues Are Most Important To Voters?

BOSTON (CBS) – One of the most interesting findings of the WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio, UMass Amherst Poll was the partisan gap in responses to the question: What issue is most important to your vote?

Read: “On The Issues” Articles

Both Republicans (20%) and Democrats (17%) felt the economy and jobs were important. Among Democrats, those issues were number one by a wide margin. But Republicans place slightly more emphasis on immigration (23%) and homeland security (23%).

In a way, this makes perfect sense.

Immigration issues have been a third rail of Massachusetts politics for three decades; older readers may recall the insurgent 1990 Democratic gubernatorial candidacy of then-BU President John Silber, who questioned why people from “warm climates” were flocking to Massachusetts and answered his own question by labeling the state a “welfare magnet.”

Democrats, by contrast, don’t seem to care; the four percent who cited it were half the number who mentioned health care, social issues and the federal deficit.

As for homeland security, it shouldn’t be too surprising that barely three years after the Boston Marathon murders, the terror threat is taken seriously here. In fact, we asked all registered voters how worried they were about a terrorist attack on the US, and 72% said they were very (29%) or somewhat (43%) worried about that.

If anything, the surprise is that Democratic likely voters care so little about it (4%).

Our poll offers other signs of the yawning red/blue divide.

Nine percent of Democrats cited income inequality as their most important issue; less than one percent of Republicans did the same.

And one finding makes you wonder about a gap between what the chattering classes and regular folks think is a big issue. Fresh off two weeks of vigorous hype of the controversy over the open Supreme Court seat and how it should be filled, only one percent of Democrats and Republicans mentioned it.

More from Jon Keller
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