Inflation and the economy continue to rank as the top issues among likely voters — and here's our new way to hear the issue's importance.

A new way of asking about issue importance

Following the 2022 midterms, the economy and inflation were cited as leading issues In pre-election polls, we began to question what the main issues of the economy were in voting. This prompted our study to reconsider common ways of asking about the importance of the problem and how we can improve them. Our testing focused on question wording and format, as well as how we ask about issues.

With the 2024 elections looming, the study aims to more specifically assess which topics will have the most significant impact on these races.

We began by changing the question wording from asking respondents to focus on their top issues for Congress, to asking instead: “At the polling station, which of the following issues do you consider most when deciding which candidate to vote for?” Although these questions are similar, we conclude that the poll question may represent the most important issues for likely voters.

We also decided to use a single-choice format and asked voters about them Most A more important issue than their first three. Then we asked voters what they were SecondMost When voting on an important issue, the same list of issues minus their first choice. The first-choice and second-choice format allowed us to better determine how voters prioritized different issues, while the multiple-choice format did not give us the same granularity.

A new way to ask about economics

In addition, we explored how to understand the underlying reasons that drive voters' choices by making the issue verbose more neutral and pursuing more specific options. For example, „abortion rights” is simplified to „abortion”. If abortion was selected as a key issue, respondents were asked in a follow-up question, “Thinking more about abortion, which of the following best describes why abortion is so important to you when considering who to vote for?” and was given the option to choose “protect abortion rights,” “restrict or stop abortion,” or write another reason.

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This follow-up question specifically asks what voters mean when they choose economic terms like „the economy.” The economic follow-up question specifically included options such as „inflation,” „economic growth,” „wages,” „immigrants taking American jobs,” „stock market,” and „loss of jobs to automation.”

A Census Between January 19-21, 2024, with the new single-choice format, voters had the option to select „inflation” in a follow-up question if they had initially selected „jobs and the economy” as their most important issue. Initially, 17% of voters chose „jobs and the economy” as most important, while 11% chose „inflation”. However, in a follow-up question, 24% of those who prioritized „jobs and the economy” indicated that inflation was the main reason for their choice – increasing the importance of inflation from 11% to 15%. Taken together, economic issues are most important to 28% of voters.

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