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Poll: Readers say economy top issue this election

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Staff Report
gsanews@scbiznews.com
Published Feb. 11, 2016

The economy, employment and jobs and health care were the top business issues for readers this election year. Conversely, gas prices, wealth and income distribution, and government regulation of banks and Wall Street were least important to readers. A slim majority of readers saw the 2016 S.C. presidential primary as having no effect on business conditions.

Ahead of the S.C. Republican presidential primary on Feb. 20, the latest Winthrop Poll numbers place Donald Trump in the lead with 24% of the vote, followed by Ted Cruz with 16%. The S.C. Democratic presidential primary takes place a week later, and the most recent Winthrop Poll numbers put Hillary Clinton in the top spot for the democrat vote at 71%, trailed by Bernie Sanders at 15%.

We recently asked readers of our GSA Daily email how important candidates’ stances on 10 business-related issues were for them as voters. Just over 85% of readers said the economy was very important, while 12% said it was somewhat important, making economy the top issue by weighted average.

Employment and jobs was the second-most important issue, as 83% of readers rated workforce very important, while 12% said employment was somewhat important and 6% said it was not important. Health care came in third, as 70% said health care was very important, 23% said it was somewhat important and two said it was not important.

Readers found gas prices the least important issue by weighted average. Only 7% said gas prices were very important, while just over 50% said they were somewhat important and 34% said they were not important. Of those surveyed, 31% rated wealth and income distribution very important, 30% said it was somewhat important and 35% rated it not important. Just over 32% of readers said government regulation of banks and Wall Street was very important, while 42% rated it somewhat important and 22% said it was unimportant.

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We then asked readers what they thought the most important issue our next president should address. We presented the same 10 issues and provided the option to write in a response. Out of readers who responded to this question, 24.62%, answered federal budget deficit; 15.38%, answered health care; 9.23%, answered employment and jobs; 7.69%, said wealth and income distribution; 4.62%, responded with education; and 1.54%, selected government regulation of banks and Wall Street. Taxes, global trade and gas prices received no votes. Seventeen people wrote in responses.

Five write-in responses were along the lines of national and Homeland security, with one reader responding, “National security and gun control measures.”

Three revolved around immigration, as one reader commented, if immigration is “not addressed, we will not control our country within 20 years.”

Other responses included protection of Social Security, environment, national defense, rebuilding infrastructure and cybersecurity.

One reader listed “civility in government and working across party lines” as their top issue. Another wrote, “Adhere to our Constitution; forget all the diversity crap, and secure our borders.”

One respondent answered, “Citizens United, money in politics.”

Next, we asked readers what effect the outcome of the S.C. presidential primaries would have on conditions at their businesses. Of the responses, 50.79%, said they saw the primaries having no effect; 28.57%, said they didn’t know. 19.05%, said the primaries would have a positive response, while 1.59%, saw them having a negative effect.

Readers were then asked why they responded as they did. Several replies indicated the general election would be more telling than the primary. “S.C. primary election by itself means little to business conditions,” wrote one reader. “Whoever is elected as president means a great deal to the possible effect upon business.”

Another said: “It is all about the general election. Trump wins, the effect will be very positive. Any Republican other than Trump or a Democrat wins, the effect will be negative.”

A handful of readers expressed dissatisfaction with the current administration. “We must move this nation away from Obama and the Dem views,” one reader wrote. “We need a government that promotes business, not one that vilifies the individual who strives for success.”

Another commented: “Republicans are pro-business. Democrats are not. Current administration has been so divisive and set back this country in many negative ways.”

Some responses said it depends on individual candidates. One of our readers said, “If the candidates are able to inspire confidence, so goes business economy and business spending.”

Other responses went along party lines. “Economic development issues should continue on the upswing until 2018, if the Republicans come across the aisle and work for every family,” a reader said. “Cruz would be the worst president out of the lot. Rubio only knows two paragraphs; he says nothing.”

Another wrote: “Any conservative will get the meddling hands of the government out of the business arena. Less government intrusion is always beneficial to business.”

One reader saw the economy as key. They wrote, “A robust economy will solve many or most of the other problems, i.e. jobs, deficit, infrastructure.”

A second reader saw a different solution. “We need socialized health care,” they wrote. “No one will touch that. Our politicians have Blue Cross (Federal Employee Program). That’s the best, and they don’t want to lose that. Selfish.”

One reader said there were “no good candidates,” while another wrote, “Business goes on.”

For this survey, comments left by readers were representative of a pretty broad range of viewpoints. As one reader wrote, “We must quit pandering to large PACs such as the (National Rifle Association) and teachers union and begin to do what is best for all citizens, not just the silent majority.

Another commented: “Health care costs have escalated in the last five years primarily because there was no support of the Affordable Care Act by Republicans and, in fact, they have done everything possible to sabotage it. The answer is not repealing the Affordable Care Act, but identifying the best parts to keep and fixing the ones that need fixing, most especially the costs for insurance.”

“Secure our boarders regardless of whose feelings are hurt,” said another. “Our country and our way of life is not a right for others who come here with no intention of assimilation.”

Here is a selection of comments left by readers. Comments have been edited only for style and typos.

Government is too big, and it is influenced by too many outside interest groups. Shrink it, remove the lobbyists and let the system work.

The candidates in the Republican primary are not addressing the issues facing everyday Americans. They simply are intent on throwing sound bites and slurs. If anything, the primary rounds this term are an embarrassment to the American will.

The current administration has destroyed the America that we all love. I want immigrants that come here to live as Americans, not bring their laws and religions and force them on us. Total b.s. that our government allows it!

Make it against the law for government to borrow money from Social Security.

National security and terrorism are not on the list, but they are very important. Safety and quality-of-life issues are business issues.

Our country must return to what has made us great. Failing to recognize the God of our fathers is having dire consequences. Also, government entanglement of banking and business has soured our entrepreneurial spirit.

The immigration and ISIS issues being brought to the forefront are smoke and mirrors to distract from the major issues facing us: The deficit, tax structure, and government involvement in personal and business matters.

Government is to defend life and protect the people from our enemies. It needs to get out of the business of regulation and manipulation of the economy.

I want a president that is a leader. The current president and others looked in a TV camera and lied to the American public, knowingly, regarding facts on Obamacare, Benghazi, and etcetera.

Bernie and Hillary are both detrimental to the economy and to our national history of individual freedom.

The primary is a wish list for the respective battling parties only. It’s a binary answer to me, because I won't vote for Hillary or a socialist Bernie. So whoever wins the Republican nod, will get my vote in the election.

Depends if we elect a capitalist or a socialist

So many on this list are related. ‘The Deficit,’ (global trade, banks and Wall Street), most but not all you list need immediate attention, they are related.

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