| I’ve mentioned before that I was added to the Zogby International polling list, meaning that every couple of weeks I get a survey with 30-40 questions about politics, social issues, consumer habits and more. This week’s survey takes an interesting tack in trying to learn which issues the potential voter considers most important. They asked a series of questions like this one: In deciding who to support in the race for President, if you agreed with your favorite candidate on every other issue but didn’t agree with that candidate on immigration, would you still support them?
The choices were “Yes,” “I don’t know,” or “No, I would support another candidate with whom I agreed on immigration.”
That question was repeated several times asking about Iraq, tax policy, Social Security reform, global warming and other topics.
The pollsters are obviously trying to identify those make-or-break issues that the voters consider non-negotiable, as NRA members famously consider gun control to be.
Historically, politicians worry about “single-issue zealots,” as they’re sometimes called. When I used to write about gun control issues, I had several local and national officials tell me (off the record, of course) that the gun rights lobby was formidable because they never forgot and never failed to show up on Election Day.
As one Dallas-area Congressman told me, you might vote on 75 other issues that year, but that one gun vote could be the killer. The voters who favor some kind of gun control might appreciate your vote, but chances are they were not as passionate as those opposed to gun control, and they might be just as concerned with a dozen other issues.
Zogby poses a good question: Is there one non-negotiable issue for you, a deal-breaker that would turn you off a candidate for good?
What if the candidate would not support any legislation aimed at curbing global warming?
What if the candidate will not promise not to raise taxes–or promises to raise taxes?
What if the candidate does not consider any of the methods used on some prisoners at Guantanamo to be torture?
What if the candidate will not support any limitations on immigration?
If you’re still undecided about a presidential candidate, this exercise might help you winnow the field.