With the country in the midst of a recession, nearly eight-in-ten registered voters (79%) say the economy will be very important to them in making their decision about who to vote for in the 2020 presidential election – the top issue of 12 included in the survey.
The economy is consistently a top voting issue. In a survey asking a similar, though not identical, list of issues in June 2016, the economy also was the top voting issue.
In the current survey, 68% of voters say health care is very important to their vote, while 64% cite Supreme Court appointments.
As the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus outbreak, 62% of voters say the outbreak will be a very important factor in their decision about who to support in the fall.
About six-in-ten (59%) say violent crime will be very important to their 2020 decision, and 57% say this about foreign policy.
Immigration and racial and ethnic inequality rank toward the lower end of the list for voters (52% each call these issues very important to their vote).
Fewer than half say climate change (42%) or abortion (40%) will be very important factors in their decision (though majorities say these issues will be at least somewhat important to them).
Trump and Biden voters diverge over importance of COVID-19 to their vote this fall
There are stark differences in how registered voters who support Donald Trump and Joe Biden view the importance of these issues. In fact, of 12 issues included, the only ones that comparable shares of Biden supporters and Trump supporters view as very important are foreign policy and Supreme Court appointments.
For Trump supporters, the economy (88%) and violent crime (74%) are the most salient issues. Roughly six-in-ten Trump supporters cite immigration (61%), gun policy (60%) and foreign policy (57%) as very important to their vote.
By contrast, the largest shares of Biden supporters view health care (84%) and the coronavirus outbreak (82%) as very important. A sizable majority also rates racial and ethnic inequality as important to their vote (76%).
While there are substantial differences between Trump and Biden supporters on the importance of most issues, the widest gaps are on climate change (57 percentage points) and racial and ethnic inequality (52 points).
In addition, Biden supporters are more than twice as likely than Trump supporters to say the coronavirus outbreak (82% of Biden supporters, 39% of Trump supporters) and economic inequality (65% of Biden supporters, 28% of Trump supporters) as very important.
Larger shares of Trump than Biden supporters say violent crime (74% vs. 46%), immigration (61% vs. 46%) and gun policy (60% vs. 50%) are very important to their decision about who to vote for in 2020.
Republicans lead on the economy; Democrats have advantages on climate, health, racial issues
Among registered voters, the Republican Party holds a 9 percentage point edge over the Democrats on the issue of being better able to handle the economy (49% Republican Party, 40% Democratic Party). And as has been the case for many years, more voters say the GOP could do a better job than the Democratic Party on terrorism (46% vs. 37%).
By contrast, the Democratic Party holds wide advantages among voters on climate change (58% to 27% over the GOP), abortion and contraception (51% to 36%) and health care (51% t0 37%). In addition, the Democratic Party has 12-point leads on handling the public health impact of the coronavirus and issues involving race and ethnicity.
On other issues, including immigration, gun policy, the federal budget deficit and law enforcement and criminal justice, neither party has a significant edge among voters.