Democrats Hold Advantage On Most Issues -- Just Not The Most Important One

July 31, 2013, 4:08 PM GMT+0

(Week of 7/29/2013) Americans remain worried about the economy, but it’s an issue on which neither party holds an advantage. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Americans are as likely to say the Republicans as they are likely to say the Democrats would do the better job on the economy and on job creation. Even more think neither party would.

The economy has been the most important problem for Americans throughout the Obama Administration. While the public thinks it is less bad now than they did when he took office in 2009, more of the public still says it is getting worse than says it is getting better. As for jobs creation, more of the public thinks that in six months there will be fewer jobs than think there will be more jobs.

On many other issues in this week’s poll, Democrats are seen as the better party. The exception is taxes, where neither party has an edge.

Despite the concerns and worries about the effects of Obamacare (when asked in previous Economist/YouGov Polls most people expect it will increase medical costs and are unsure if it will improve care), Americans are more likely to think Democrats are better than Republicans on the issue of health care.

In addition to health care, more people see Democrats as the better party on education, immigration, abortion and gay rights.

Immigration reform, currently an issue (and a debate) in Congress, does get support from many in the public. By 49% to 36%, Americans support for creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants now in the United States, if they pass background checks, pay a fine, and have jobs. While Democrats and independents favor such a pathway, Republicans oppose one by 53% to 36%.

Those who support a pathway to citizenship see the Democrats as the party better on the issue by 46% to 11%. Those opposed to a pathway see the Republicans as better than the Democrats, 35% to 6%. However, even more of those opposed to a pathway to citizenship say neither party is good on the issue.

The same pattern exists on the issue of gay rights. There is no question that those who favor gay marriage think the Democratic Party is better on the issue of gay rights – and by 70% to only 2%. Yet those opposed to gay marriage are not convinced that the Republican Party is better. 26% of those opposed to gay marriage say the Republican Party is better on the issue of gay rights; 19% think the Democratic Party is. 38% say neither party is good on this issue.

58% of Republicans see the Democratic Party as better when it comes to the interests of gays and lesbians. The Democratic Party has a 56% to 6% lead over the Republican Party overall.

The two parties have distinct images: both men and women say the Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party when it comes to women. Whites and blacks appear to agree that the Democrats are better at representing African-Americans and Hispanics. Republicans are seen as better for gun owners.

Republicans also are perceived as better for Christians, the country’s largest religious group, by nearly three to one. On this question Republicans and independents see the GOP as the better party. In fact, only 7% of independents and 2% of Republicans view the Democrats as a better party for Christians. One in five Democrats think the Republicans are better for Christians.

When it comes to helping American families, Americans aren’t sure which party is better. Nearly as many name the Republican Party as name the Democratic Party.