Americans tend to vote first and foremost on the economy — except this year, Republicans have a different top priority: national security.
A recent poll from Morning Consult surveying more than 275,000 registered voters across the country from February through April of this year, shows 35 percent of Republican voters see security as their top policy issue going into the 2018 midterm election cycle, closely followed by the economy, which 29 percent of Republican voters listed as their top policy issue. “Senior’s issues,” likely including Social Security and Medicare, as well as health care issues follow.
Democrats and independent voters, however, largely still identify the economy as their highest priority when picking their candidate. Notably, security and health care are the second and third priorities for independent voters, while for Democrats, health care is almost as important as the economy (24 percent and 22 percent). Security is fourth behind senior’s issues for Democrats.
Here’s the breakdown from Morning Consult:
The poll shows a slight divergence from the narrative around the 2016 election, after which many pundits on the right and left wing of the Democratic Party attributed President Donald Trump’s ascension to economic anxiety.
But even in the presidential election, security issues were important. According to a report from the Pew Research Center, 90 percent of Trump supporters said the economy was “very important” to their vote in 2016. Eighty-nine percent of Trump voters said the same of the issue of terrorism.
But that Republican voters this year are most concerned about security issues, even more so than jobs, is a notable development — especially as the national Republican Party continues to put its new tax law front and center.
Trump, too, has claimed credit for the stability of the economy. (As Vox’s Matt Yglesias explained, the economy is not too different from the end of the Obama era. The main difference is that Trump now says it’s good.) His administration’s national and foreign security record is less steady; recent staffing shake-ups did away with traditional Republican figures in favor of more hawkish voices on the right, with appointments like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo.
Meanwhile, Democrats have prioritized health care in 2018 campaigns and attacked Republicans for giving corporations and the wealthy a massive tax break.