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Hitting the Mark on Issues

This year's crop of presidential candidates are doing a better job addressing the issues Americans care about than their predecessors did eight years ago, at least according to a USA Today-Gallup poll out today.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents in the new poll said the candidates are "talking about issues you really care about," up 18 percentage points from this time in 2000. And the percentage saying the candidates are hitting the mark this time is up across party lines, but particularly sharply among Democrats.

Eight in 10 Democrats now think the top contenders are addressing the right issues; it was 25 points lower the last time both parties had competitive contests. The bump in satisfaction among Democrats parallels other campaign dynamics: a narrow range of issues captivate Democratic voters this time out, and Democrats are broadly satisfied with their choice of candidates.

Among Democrats, only a few issues consistently reach into double-digits as a top election concern -- the economy (now #1), Iraq and health care -- making it easier for candidates to focus on their stump speeches. In 2000, as many as five issues competed for primacy, with three others near the top of the list.

And throughout 2007 Democrats have been more content with their field of candidates than Republicans with theirs. In the latest Post-ABC poll, that trend turned into a gap in enthusiasm. While six in 10 Democrats said they "strongly" support their top candidate, just 40 percent of Republicans are that passionate about theirs.

Are the presidential candidates talking about issues you really care about, or not? (% saying "yes")
January 2008 January 2000 Change
All 72 54 +18
Democrats 79 54 +25
Independents 64 47 +17
Republicans 74 60 +14

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  January 17, 2008; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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