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Pew Research Poll: Social issues rank lowest among voter priorities

Thursday, April 19, 2012
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WASHINGTON — As voters continue to focus on the economy and jobs as top issues, President Barack Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, has narrowed from a 12 points last month to a slim 49 percent to 45 percent advantage.

While neither candidate has a clear advantage on the economy or jobs issues, which more than eight-in-ten voters cited as “very important” to their choice, several hot-button social issues, such as gay marriage and birth control, are at the bottom of the electorate’s agenda.

More than eight-in-ten voters say the economy (86 percent) and jobs (84 percent) are very important issues in deciding who to vote for this fall, according to the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center.

Roughly three-quarters ofalso cite the federal budget deficit (74 percent), health care (74 percent) and education (72 percent) as top voting priorities. Near the bottom of the list are some of the hot-button social issues. Just 28% say that gay marriage is a very important issue, and 34% rate birth control as a top issue.

The survey, conducted April 4-15, of 3,008 adults, including 2,373 registered voters, shows that Obama continues to owe his lead to support from women, college graduates, African Americans, Latinos and lower income voters – all of whom support him over Romney by double-digits.

The gender gap remains comparable to those in previous surveys during the current campaign, as well as past election cycles; women favor Obama by a 53 percent to 40 percent margin; among men voters, 50 percent favor Romney, while 44 percent back Obama. Obama has lost ground among both men and women at about the same rate over the past month.

With nearly all voters concerned about the economy, neither candidate has a clear advantage on the issue. Those who say the economy and jobs will be very important to their vote divide their support almost evenly between Obama and Romney.

While birth control is one of the lowest ranking issues, Obama holds a substantial 56 percent to 37 percent lead among voters who rate this as very important. Birth control is significantly more important to women (40% very important) than men (27%), but the gender gap is no greater than over issues like education and health care, which women also rate as more important voting concerns.

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