In politics and polling, you sometimes have to take an extra step back to get a wide angle on what truly interests the public -- as opposed to what the politicians think or want the public to be interested in.
Our latest InsiderAdvantage national survey asked:
Which of the following is most important to you in deciding how to vote in the presidential election?
Ending the war in Iraq: 35 percent
Continuing the war on terror with current methods: 22 percent
Reducing the national debt: 18 percent
Electing the candidate you find more likeable: 10 percent
Preserving the 2001 tax cuts: 5 percent
Something else: 8 percent
Don't know: 2 percent
The poll was conducted June 25-26 among 500 likely voters nationwide. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
The poll clearly shows that Iraq remains the most significant issue in the minds of at least a plurality of respondents. But maintaining the current level of fighting terrorism wasn't too far behind. Neither response is surprising. Certainly not as surprising as the piddling percentage of those who named preserving the Bush tax cuts as their top priority come November.
The tax cut not important? Do people not realize the dramatic economic turnaround we're now enjoying is at least partially a result of Bush's insistence on pumping government proceeds back into the economy? That it restored optimism back into the business community, and to individuals as well? Apparently not.
That's the problem. As incumbents usually do, Bush and his team are finding themselves having to play defense in this campaign. Meanwhile, Kerry and the Democrats are basking in the glow of admiration for the good looks and charm of John Edwards. What's missing in all this is a new idea or two. And the election desperately needs them.
Some fresh proposals would almost certainly boost the Bush ticket, especially when its foreign policy tough-mindedness and domestic successes are either ignored or under attack.
Here's one sample "unique idea" that just might fly, if only someone has the courage to offer it or something else new. A variation on this idea might be a policy concept already proven in its appeal and effectiveness, but offered now with a new twist, or on a grander scale.