The issue of health care is currently dominating national polls and it is the issue likely voters say is the most important issue to their vote in November. Democrats in particular have built their 2018 pitch around health care.
While it is clearly the top issue in the country as a whole, most state polls, especially those in some key battleground states, show health care has competition from the economy, and in some areas, immigration.
Texas is one state where residents are more concerned with the issue of immigration, perhaps due to their geographical proximity to the border. According to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS in early October, 26% of likely voters said that immigration was the most important issue to their vote for Senate, followed by 23% who said the economy, and 19% who said health care.
Of course, the priorities vary based on partisanship. Democrats prioritize health care above all other issues in every state CNN has polled. Between 42% - 43% of Democratic likely voters in Arizona, Missouri, and Tennessee rate health care as their top voting issue. The percentage of likely Democratic voters listing health care first was lower in Nevada (36%) and Texas (33%), but it was still the top issue for both states.
Meanwhile, Republican priorities depend on the state. In Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas, immigration is the most important issue among Republican likely voters while the economy was tops in Missouri and Nevada. CNN’s Key Race ratings list all of those states as Tossups except Texas, which is rated as Lean Republican.
A Quinnipiac poll of Texas, taken in the same time frame, found the exact same percentage of likely voters (26%) who said immigration was the most important issue influencing their decision on how to vote for US Senator. For those Republican voters, immigration was followed in Quinnipiac’s poll by the economy (19%), health care (16%), and the Supreme Court (16%).
During their first debate – which occured right before the polling period – Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke and incumbent Republican Ted Cruz clashed over immigration, an already contentious issue in the border state.
But Texas isn’t the only state where immigration looms large. In Arizona, while Democrats listed health care as the top issue, CNN’s poll found immigration to be the most important issue overall to likely voters (24%) in their Senate choice, followed closely by health care (22%). An NBC/Marist poll in Arizona found immigration topping the list of issues that would decide likely voters’ choice for Congress (23%), with health care (22%) and the economy and jobs (21%) following closely behind.
Quinnipiac found divergence from health care in the state of Florida, another state with a Senate race CNN lists as Tossup. In late September, two-in-ten likely voters said the most important issue to decide their vote for Senate was the economy and 14% saw the economy as the top issue. Although, another NBC/Marist poll (also in late September) in Florida has the economy and jobs just one point below health care – 24% and 23%, respectively.
That’s the case for almost all of the NBC/Marist state polls, with Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin showing health care and the economy and jobs within two-points of each other.
Florida is divided between the two dominating issues of the economy and health care with the CNN poll from late October with likely voters who said healthcare is their top issue – 26% – and the economy is their top issue – 25%. NBC/Marist’s late September Florida poll has the two at 24% and 23%.
The only key state of the group examined by CNN, Marist, and Quinnipiac (AZ, FL, IN, MO, MN, NJ, NV, NY, OH, TN, TX, and WI) where the leading issue isn’t the economy, healthcare, or immigration was New Jersey, where (when offered as an option by Quinnipiac in late August), ethics in government was the top issue at 25%. That’s also the state where incumbent Sen. Robert Menendez, who is running for reelection, survived federal corruption charges.