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Snap Poll: Economy and jobs still top election issue

The economy and jobs—those are the top issues for Rochester Business Journal readers in this year’s presidential election, by a wide margin. Foreign policy ranked a distant second.

Respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll were asked to name the issues that are very important to them in deciding which presidential candidate to vote for in the 2016 election. In less than three weeks, registered Democrats and Republicans in New York will have the opportunity to help select their parties’ nominees.

The outcome of New York’s April 19 presidential primaries could play a big role in deciding who will be the Democratic and Republican candidates in the fall election. Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders in the Democratic delegate count, but Sanders regained some momentum over the weekend with a string of wins in western states. On the Republican side, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are trying to earn their party’s nod—or at least deny front-runner Donald Trump a first-ballot win at the Republican convention this summer.

New York officials say voter registration surged in the days before the March 25 deadline. Interest in changing party affiliation reportedly also has been high, but any party change submitted after Oct. 9, 2015, by law will not take effect until after the Nov. 8 general election and therefore does not apply for the April 19 primaries.

In New York, only voters enrolled as Democrats or Republicans are eligible to vote in their respective parties’ presidential primaries.

As of March 1, there were 429,549 registered voters in Monroe County. Of those, 40 percent were Democrats and 29 percent were Republicans. Independents accounted for 24 percent. The remaining 7 percent were enrolled in other parties.

In a July 2015 Snap Poll that posed the same question, the economy and jobs also ranked No. 1—and the percentage of respondents naming them (79 percent) was identical with this week’s poll. Among the notable differences in the two polls: terrorism moved up 9 points, to 54 percent from 45 percent last summer; and debt and deficits slipped 6 points, to 52 percent from 58 percent eight months ago, when it ranked second only to the economy and jobs.

More than 700 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted March 28 and 29, up slightly compared with last July’s poll.

In deciding which presidential candidate to vote for in the 2016 election, which issues are very important to you? (Respondents selected all that applied.)
Economy and jobs  79%
Foreign policy  55%
Terrorism  54%
Ethics in government  53%
Health care  53%
Debt and deficits  52%
National defense  52%
Immigration  51%
Taxes  50%
Personal character  44%
Social Security and Medicare  43%
Income inequality and poverty  36%
Global warming and other environmental issues  33%
Education  31%
Experience of candidates  30%
Financial system reform  27%
Race relations  22%
Social issues such as abortion, gay marriage  21%
Other  5%

What is your party affiliation?
Democratic   28%
Republican   34%
Non-affiliated   34%
Other   4%

COMMENTS:

Although I was too young to vote for him, I was very active in Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign and in related conservative groups. By the time I was eligible to vote, though, I registered as unaffiliated, since neither the Democrats nor the Republicans fit my ideals. A few candidates had the integrity that Goldwater had (Shirley Chisholm, Dick Gregory, Gene McCarthy). Just this month, however, for the first time in my life, I registered as a Democrat, so that I could vote in the primary for Bernie Sanders. I am very worried for the future for my seven children and my soon-to-be 16 grandchildren. I truly agree with an obituary of a contemporary I just saw today that said, “In lieu of flowers, please don’t vote for Hillary.”
—Ken Maher

President Obama had a golden opportunity to bind and heal our nation. Instead, he continues condescendingly to divide us: men vs. women, black vs. white, successful vs. not there yet, everyone vs. Christians. Democrats insist on equal results (not equal opportunity) and on making people dependent on bigger government as the answer. But the best social justice program on the planet is a job or a business.
—Luis Martinez, Pittsford

The elimination of government intervention at all levels would be nice.
—Todd Beamer, Gates

As a Democrat, my highest priority is selecting a candidate who will beat Trump in November! I feel it is every Democrats’ solemn duty to their country to do so.
—Paul E. Haney

The above issues are very important and require high decision quality and fast response times to improve. All leaders need to encourage questions, suggestions and objections to proposals in these areas and read or listen to them efficiently and effectively. This survey will help, I hope, to accomplish these things.
—Chuck Masick

We need a leader with experience, discipline, diplomacy, maturity and emotional stability who understands the workings of the U.S. government, foreign policy and will represent ALL the citizens of the country.
—Eve Elzenga

Our country needs leadership that is inclusive of both parties’ members to legislate laws that get our infrastructure sound once again, so commerce can continue to be effective and efficient as is needed to be productive and globally competitive.
—Garry Geer, Geer Photography

Unfortunately, there aren’t any candidates left that can effectively run this country. Dark days ahead.
—Joseph Fabetes, Rochester

President Obama had a golden opportunity to bind and heal our nation. Instead, he continues condescendingly to divide us: men vs. women, black vs. white, successful vs. not there yet, everyone vs. Christians. Democrats insist on equal results (not equal opportunity) and on making people dependent on bigger government as the answer. But the best social justice program on the planet is a job or a business.
—Luis Martinez, Pittsford

Of the issues that I selected, I rate the experience of the candidates and their approach to the economy and job creation as most important of all. It seems that in this group of candidates we have only one candidate with meaningful experience: Hillary Clinton. Whether you agree with her or hate her, she has the personal portfolio that matters for a president. It seems that on the right, the focus has been on immigration and fear of foreigners or non-Christians; that misses the target for me completely. On the left, the focus seems to be better aligned with the economy and job creation. Once again, you may or may not agree with their approaches to these issues, but at least they are focused on issues instead of fear and foreigners.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

We are lacking a qualified candidate.
—David DeMallie

It is time to end the business as usual in Washington, D.C. Trump may be far from perfect, but the fact that the professional politicians are up in arms is a good indicator we are on the right track. The decay and eventual destruction of all great democracies has come from within. We should learn from what is happening in Europe. The USA has been moved in the last eight years toward the liberal socialist agenda, capitalism is dying and the middle class is blending with the poor as we are becoming wards of the state, dependent on their social programs. (A) commercial just came on TV—let your tax dollars be controlled by Cuomo to further his social agenda. How about him deciding to have us all pay more for his $15/hour plan? What happened to free enterprise?
—Mark Williams

We need term limits as part of the popular vote. Not by the Congress since it will never happen. Two years at a time is what they should serve. What is happening now is a disgrace to our people and country.
—Nick Meli

The central issue is whom government is intended to serve—all of us generally, or only a relative few wealthy parasites and the sycophants who enable them. A corollary issue is whether Republicans, when they can’t win fairly, will be allowed to sabotage democracy, obstruct government and damage the society at large.
—James Leunk

The biggest issue is to reverse the massive structural damage that Obama’s administration has done to the United States in so many areas. Obama was brought up as a Marxist and he has oozed this philosophy throughout his reign. Our only hope is Cruz, Kasich or Trump. Hillary Clinton is nothing but Obama Jr.
—John Rynne

In the words of Bill Clinton, “It’s the economy, stupid” and with help from Ross Perot, a third-party candidate, Clinton rode to his first election. We have to get our spending and our deficit under control. Defense. I saw a bumper sticker that read, “If you can read, thank a teacher. If you can read English, thank a Marine.” Defense, bigger, not smaller.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services PC

The two-party political system in this country is a disaster, overtaken by lobbyists and politicians who have never worked a day in their life for a living wage. We’re fed up with these “leeches”!!
—Hal Gaffin

4/1/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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