Pew survey: 'Moral values' is still top for voters—if it's suggested as an option
The biggest debate after the U.S. presidential election has almost certainly been the influence "values voters" had on re-electing George Bush. (Here's today's roundup of op-ed pieces on the subject, here's the deluge from earlier this week.) Fortunately, today there's actual news on this subject, instead of the tiresome triumphalism vs. bigotry talking points.
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press's quadrennial post-election survey found that moral values really was the top factor in deciding for whom to vote—and at even bigger numbers than those troublesome exit polls: 27 percent for moral values, 22 percent for Iraq, 21 percent for "economy/jobs", 14 percent for terrorism/security.
But here's the catch: Moral values only wins out when you ask voters to pick the issue that mattered most among that list (along with health care, education, and taxes). If you just ask, "What one issue mattered most to you in deciding how you voted for President?" the war in Iraq is the runaway winner, with 25 percent. Then it's economy/jobs (12%), moral values (9%) and terrorism/security (8%).
Even if you add in "honesty/integrity" (5%), abortion (3%), and "the candidate's religiosity/morals" (2%), you still don't compete with Iraq.
Bigger news: No one said that marriage or stem-cell research was the number-one issue that mattered in their voting. (The survey did allow for, but didn't ask for secondary responses on that question: 2% gave marriage as a second response, 1% gave stem-cell research).
"We did not see any indication that social conservative issues like abortion, gay rights, and stem-cell research were anywhere near as important as the economy ...1