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What issue(s) will ultimately decide the presidential election?
May 3rd, 2012
03:35 PM ET

What issue(s) will ultimately decide the presidential election?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's shaping up to be a tight race this November between President Obama and Mitt Romney, especially in some of the crucial swing states.

And new polls show romney closing in on the president in both Florida and Ohio.

The Quinnipiac Poll shows Romney up by one point in Florida: 44-to-43 - and the president up by two in Ohio: 44-to-42. Both are within the sampling error.

In Pennsylvania, President Obama has widened his lead to eight points: 47-to-39

Keep in mind: No one has won the White House since 1960 without carrying at least two of these three states.

Pollsters say some of Romney's gains come from voter perception that he is as good as - or better than - President Obama at fixing the economy.

And it's no secret that for millions of Americans, the economy will be far-and-away issue #1 come November.

A recent Pew Poll shows an overwhelming 86% of registered voters say the economy will be "very important" to their vote, while 84% cite jobs.

According to this poll, other top issues include the budget deficit, health care, education, medicare, energy and taxes.

At the bottom of this list come issues like immigration, abortion, birth control and gay marriage.

It would be a nice change if the politicians took note and stayed away from the wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage this year and instead talked about what really concerns most people.

Meanwhile there are two key Supreme Court decisions due in June which could throw the national focus back on health care and immigration.

Here’s my question to you: What issue(s) will ultimately decide the presidential election?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Martha:
At this point, you can throw darts at a board. A month ago, there was no contest; it seemed Obama had it in the bag. Now, not so much. In my opinion, events happening from August to October will decide this one, no matter what the candidates do or don't do. Stuff happens.

Bob in Ohio:
Money… whoever has the biggest pile of it to saturate the media enough to sway the swing voting blocs.

Augusto in Los Angeles:
I think the economy and unemployment are the number one issue. Housing, education, national safety from terrorists and health insurance are also all very important.

Oliver in El Paso, Texas:
There will be a lot of issues, but I think people will vote for the person they feel safer with. George W. Bush was re-elected because a lot of people felt safer with him to protect the nation.

Jennifer in Tucson, Arizona:
Ultimately, it will be trust and dependability, which should bode well for President Obama.

Steve:
No issues. "Ultimately" the election will be decided the way it always is, by who most people in their gut are most comfortable with seeing on their TV for four years as our president.

Tom in North Carolina:
It's the hair, stupid. Doesn’t the guy with the best hair always win? Well, most of the time.

Posted by
Filed under: 2012 Election
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Augusto, L.A. CA.

    I think the economy and unemployment is the number one issue. Housing, education, national safety from terrorists and medical insurance for as many that can afford it are also all very important presidential concerns.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  2. Russ in PA

    Presumably the economy will be the main issue, which will give both Obama and Romney the opportunity to show how poorly they understand the importance of a true free market. After all, both are quite fond of pushing for government intervention, and neither appears interested in establishing a sound currency and ending the FED.

    Ron Paul in 2012...

    May 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  3. Gary in San Jose, California

    Two big issues will decide this next election. First will be the economy and what the candidates plan to do to improve the economy and lower unemployment. Second will be the debt and deficit and what the candidates plan to do with entitlement programs and taxes in order to solve this problem. All other issues pale in comparison to these two.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  4. jk in MN

    For most Americans I think it will come down to who they believe and trust more to move the country (the entire country) forward so I'd say that character followed closely by the economy will decide it. I know that I can't trust anyone who has parks millions of dollars off shore probably to avoid paying tax on it won't EVER receive my trust OR my vote. It tells me he's more worried about himself than he is the country.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  5. Jayne in NH

    Since the economy is improving (record profits on Wall Street, jobless rate declining), the election might well come down to whether we want to make progress in the next few years or go back to the future. Republicans seem hell bent on having women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. They want to cut off Grandma's Medicare, privatize Social Security and end up with half the nation living at the poor farm. All around the country Republican governors have been laying off cops and teachers and firemen. They are Reverse Robin Hoods who take from the poor to give to the rich. Is this what we want? I don't think so.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  6. Dave - Phx

    The most important issue to me, is that we don't put back in power the policies of the people who got our economy into this mess in the first place. I cannot vote for a Republican due to all the idiotic legislation that they keep trying to enact and the fact that they do not care about anyone but themselves and the almighty dollar. Everything is about money or religion to them, and the religious issues they raise I find to be completely disingenious.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  7. Bill of New Mexico

    Four dismal years of jobs and economy with little improvement.

    Many promises and big on War in Afghanistan.

    It is high time to let someone else see if they can fix this economy!

    The hunger for a change in the economy will be the deciding issue.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  8. Oliver El Paso, TX

    There will be a lot of issues, but I think people will vote for the person they feel saver with. Gorge Bush was reelected the second time because a of people felt saver with him to protect our nation. People will vote for Obama they know he will protect social security, medicare, our nation, foreign affairs, and economic.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  9. Ed from California

    For me, it's "Ten more years"!!! Ten more years of wasting human life in some war that makes no sense. Our troops are burnt out. When they finally come home....they can't cope w/civilian life.......no jobs, no medical help (The VA is useless). So, they kill each other, or commit suicide. If, we are going to stay at war....we need a draft, w/no deferments, and no exceptions. Every young person, no matter who you are, has to serve. That goes for all of our hired helps kids and the 1% kids as well.....equal sacrifice!! I hope some great third party candidate will decide to run.....I can't vote for these two knuckleheads!

    May 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  10. Steve, Clifton, Virginia

    Stability in leadership, Continuity in direction and policy, and humility in day to day practice. The issue of who is best fit to fill the role of Leadership of the greatest nation on earth will be the deciding factor/issue.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  11. Doug Ericson

    Abortion is a bigger issue than most people think because it divides the country in half. Every one has an opinion on abortion and it is usually a strongly felt belief. Most people will say the economy, but everyone has the same opinion about the economy. They want it to get better. Most Americans are sick of the loser wars we are fighting too. What we are engaging in Afghanistan now looks more like a crusade to me than a fight against terrorism. Since when is Afghanistan the only place on Earth the terrorist are going to regroup. Wall Street and the practice of selling pooled mortgage securities should be right up there. No one invited Wall Street into our Homes, and it will be good for every one if Wall Street gets back to minding their own business. The National Debt should be a huge issue but neither Party is talking about it much. Yet we all know from personal experience that paying 40 cents out of every dollar received for interest isn't going to last long. Religeon is slowly getting chipped away by secularism in this new era. It should be a simple transition but the Religeous Interest Groups will fight wars to keep the old myths alive. Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  12. Ken in Pinon Hills, California

    Jobs, employment, a paycheck. It is the only issue for the jobless. Abortion, Gays, national debt, taxes are distant for those where food, health care,and shelter is a struggle. There are millions out of work,and millions employed fearing joblessness. In time it may be the main issue for the majority of America's electorate.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  13. Gary H. Boyd

    4 things Jack: The economy; the unemployment rate; and the Supreme Court's decision's on Obamacare and immigration. If those go against Obama, Romney will have at least a 50/50 chance of winning. But, if those four turn out to be positive for Obama, we're stuck with this Socialist Robin Hood for another four years.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    May 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  14. Ed from Harrisburg

    It is clear to me that if the economy continues to improve significantly, President Obama will be hard to beat. George Romney is entrenched in the politics and economics that got us in this mess. His own party is half-heartedly supporting him and he cannot related to the average American. Barak Obama is trying. He may not be succeeding as much as people would like, but he is slowly succeeding in turning things around. Neither candidate is particularly attractive now, but Americans do not want to see the gains made in the post WWII days rolled back and eliminated. They want a chance to live a decent middle class life and President Obama understands that. George Romney, unfortunately can't. That's what's going to tip this election.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  15. ken, atlantic city, nj

    Race pure and simple. 99% of the people of color namely blacks and hispanics will vote for obama no matter what he does or does not do for them. The women who now control 51% of the wealth but think they don't make enough will also make a difference. The male people of color will make no difference in the next election.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  16. It's May, Wyoming

    The deciding issues for voting will be as individual as the voters - a very long list including race, religion and who has lied about what. I believe the biggest ones
    will still be about the economy - Wall Street and jobs. Also security, like our military presence and terrorism.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  17. yianni

    If we don't reform the public sector pension system in this country, states and municipalities will continually increase burdens on the taxpayer to fund budget shortfalls and negate the efforts made at the federal level to bring this economy back to life. As a result we risk becoming a fiscal mess just like the EU, and having a depressed economy for decades to come.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  18. Martha Brooks

    At this point, you can throw darts at a board. A month ago there was no contest...seemed Obama had it in the bag. Now, not so much. In my opinion, events happening from August to October will decide this one, no matter what the candidates do or don't do. Stuff happens.

    Martha, Rew, PA

    May 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  19. Pete in Georgia

    The MAIN issue will be the honesty and unbiased reporting by the media. For the past 4+ years the mainstream media has refused to shed any light as to who Barrack...........or Barry Obama really is. His background, his almost zero experience in governing ANYTHING, let alone the most powerful nation in the free world. No interest, no desire to discover what just may be the biggest blunder or lie in the history of America. Obama gets a "free pass" on any viable question relating to his past, his experience, or his ties to some of the most corrupt people on this planet.
    Now, don't you think this all may be an issue to take an honest look at ???

    May 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  20. Tim Test

    Jack,
    The economy will tell the story of the election, and regardless of who wins, we will still be in the mess we are in now.
    I find it amazing that the American people think the president makes the laws. The so called Congress are the ones responsible for the mess we find ourselves in today. Pandering to all the special interest groups, and the gridlock in the legislative branch is the problem. When I see one of them on television, the first thing I do is look to see if they have a R or a D before their name, then you know what side of the issue they are on.
    The election cycle will begin again in less than a year after one of them take the oath anyway, and the regular folks like me still won't have anymore then than we do now.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  21. Jenna Roseville CA

    What issue(s) will ultimately decide the presidential election?

    Economy
    JOBS
    Terrorism

    Who has this covered? Obama

    He has turned the Economy around from the mess that the Republicans left it in
    He has been a JOB creator and had the GOP not blocked JOB Creation Bills more Americans would be working today
    He has been a proven leader in the fight on terrorism with the Elimination of Osama Bin Laden and Ghadaffi

    Obama has my vote.

    Jenna
    Roseville CA

    May 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  22. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: In my opinion, no one issue-–it will be "anything and everything!" Whatever it takes to WIN!

    May 3, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  23. Karen, Idaho

    The inability of Congress to cooperate for the good of the country. The Republicans will take the hit on this one.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  24. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    Jack, my only hopes are that this election will be decided on the issues whatever they turn out to be and the truth. My fears are they will be decided on super pack money and the bombardment of negative ads which we have already seen happen in the primaries. I think this is why Santorum and Gingrich has a hard time with supporting Romney. My second hope would be the Supreme Court doesn't elect another president. I just don't think we could stand another George W.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  25. Jennifer from Tucson

    Ultimately, it will be trust and dependability, which should bode well for President Obama.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  26. Phyllis G. Williams

    What issue(s) will ultimately decide the presidential election?

    "the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He Will"
    (Daniel 4: 17,25, 32 ; 5: 21)
    "He removeth kings, and setteth up kings" (Daniel 2: 21)
    We shall see "the increase of His Government and Peace ...upon His Kingdom, to order it,
    establish it with Judgment and Justice from henceforth even for ever."(Isaiah 9: 7)

    May 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  27. calaurore9

    Whatever is most prominent in the minds of Americans in October 2012. It could turn on one news day.

    Carol in Northampton, Ma

    May 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  28. Jim

    Jack, Not what the candidates, pundits, or you think. Summer vacations, Summer Olympics, and Party Conventions will dominate June – August. Super Pacs will become so acrid and pervasive they will drown in their own vitriol creating little influence except in their own bases. September and October will thrust Obama and Romney into the debate forum which will test what each has to say, how well they say it and probably determine the outcome of the election. Watch the Hispanics and the results of the "War On Women". Over weight their impact.
    Jim Los Angeles

    May 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  29. T.P. Anthony

    Orlando, FL
    The issue won't be the economy or jobs or foreign diplomacy. The issue will be; Can Romney connect with the American people on ANY level about ANYTHING? He reminds me of a sim character in a computer game. The,"Livin Large," expansion pack incarnate.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  30. Bert in Los Angeles

    Hi Jack, the ultimate issue is character. With Obama’s community organizer values, General Motors is alive and we have Wall Street and health care reform. With Romney’s aristocratic aloofness, he looks to his wife, who has decided to never take a paying job, as an authority on what women want. When Romney puts Man’s best friend of the roof of his car, a major issue is, "how would he treat the rest of us?"

    May 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  31. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Some people will say "It's Economy Jack" but it will be how the debates go between the President and the Flip-flopper. Neither are my choice but will not vote for a person who supports the Ryan tax plan and thinks the poor will be ok or who LIKES to fire people.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  32. MARK, OKLAHOMA CITY

    Jack, there is only ONE issue that ever decides a presidential election and that is "How many eligible voters will choose to stay home on election day."

    May 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  33. Chandler in Rockaway, NJ

    The same three issues the average citizen has been screaming about now for years, only to be ignored: JOBS, JOBS, and what was that third one ... oh, right, JOBS.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  34. Pat in Michigan

    just one Jack. Sheep Sheering.!

    May 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  35. Loren, Chicago

    Where President Obama was really born. Sorry, I couldn't help it, but the truth is that no single issue has that power, even the economy, unless one of the candidates says something incredibly stupid. I'd say that, given the unwillingness of a large block of his supporters to see through the smoke and mirrors of his empty campaign promises, the campaign is still the President's to lose.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  36. Kyle S Irvine, CA

    The economy Jack,
    Americans care more about their prosperity. When Mr. Obama was running in 2008, he said he would fix the problem of unemployment and jobs and he hasn't (truth is government can't create jobs only businesses can) so here we are 4 years later and nothing has changed. Looks like President Obama will be a 1 term president.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  37. jimmy

    Jack, I think the main issue that will decide the Presidency is that of the media. Romney will have a chance if he is able to break through the walls set up by the mainstream media. They will marginalize anyone who tries to speak against Obama. Unless Romney breaks through the wall of silence he will lose. If he gets an even break from the media he is the winner.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  38. Brad, Portland, OR

    People may have the idea that Romney will be good at fixing the economy.

    But wait until they find out what Romney's company, Bain Capital, REALLY did.

    Layoffs, outsourcing American jobs to foreign countries, and loading up companies with debt and forcing them into bankruptcy so the investors can pocket the money without having to pay it back sure don't sound like good ways to help the American economy. As a matter of fact, it sounds like a lot of what's WRONG with our economy.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  39. tom Bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    Forced vaginal probes, the attack on Family Planning, opposition to birth control, vitriolic rants against women like Sandra Fluck, and Republican opposition to the Violence Against Women Act, will raise Susan B Anthony from the grave to vote in this election. The good news for Romney is he'll get to enjoy his California mansion and his car elevator.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  40. Mike S., New Orleans

    Unfortunately Jack, it is the wedge issues that have led to election successes for Republicans. Gay marriage, abortion, contraception and immigration can get voters fired up to support whoever panders to the ultra-right wing conservative base. And once again, we'll get the wrong president for the wrong reasons. A vote cast for irrational reasons counts just as much as a thoughtful one.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  41. Kim , Dodge City, Ks

    The issue of an ill-informed, narrow minded and factualy challenged public is of major concern to me, and I'm sure, to many others. This election system we are saddled with, works best if you have a well educated and discerning voting body that is knowlegeable. Unfortunately, we are far from that.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  42. dissapointedvoter

    Romney is Obama light. There is a pillar of thin smoke dividing them so does the outcome matter. We need to pay more attention to our law makers, an opportunity missed. It seems between the Patriot Act and counting corporations as
    individuals we cant afford to focus only on the president just because hes on tv the most.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  43. Cy Gardner

    Where are you from? The people who refuse to believe that the President of the United States was born in the United States will be outnumbered by the people who can't believe that Mitt Romney comes from the same planet that we do. cy from arlington, va

    May 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  44. Dave R

    The economy, while still not booming, is in considerably better shape than when Obama took office. This being the case, I think Retiree's will be the determining factor, and be afraid to vote for a Republican who will cut their benefits. The pendulum swung to the Democrats in 2008, back to Republicans in 2010, and I think it will swing back to Democrats in 2012, though not to the degree of 2008.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  45. Paulo - Calif

    The economy, the economy, the economy, in that order.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  46. Ed from Texas

    The first Boy Scout Law is being Trustworthy. I will vote for the candidate worthy of my trust.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  47. Mel - Houston

    Unfortunately, most American haven't got a clue what the global and political issues are. I've asked my sister this several time and all she whines is "Oh, I don't know I've always voted Republican I'll probably vote that way again". Their in the lower middle class and have a granddaughter that has to get Medicade support because of sensory issues since birth. If the Republicans do away with Medicade, she'd just whine some more and vote Republican again. She believes their isn't a dimes worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats. She just doesn't have the time to care.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  48. CRAIG R. MCNEES

    Tampa, Fl When someone actually reads our Constitution and figures out neither is eligible to run. Immigration is actually the key to all of our problems after that.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  49. susan

    As a long time "swing state" voter, I can tell you from experience that the "issues" will have little to do with "what it comes down to." What it will come down to, as usual, is who will succeed in getting the most "nasty, half-true, 30-second soundbites" aired during "prime time," when the majority of America watches things like CSI Miami, Two and a Half Men, and Dancing With the Stars.

    The media likes to think it has something to do with the issues; that's the media's little fantasy and what they do for a living. But it's really all about "nasty." And the one with the most money wins. Hey, just callin' a spade a spade.

    SV
    Ohio

    May 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  50. Mark in Houston

    That part of the electorate that can still think for itself will probably be looking hard at Debate answers relating to economy and jobs.

    The rest, which more and more seems to make up the majority, have already made up thir minds based how they've been told to think regarding abortion, religion, and race.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  51. Cy Gardner

    Same as usual. How many of the people who are allowed to vote will fall for the onslaught of lies and attack ads designed to convince Americans that making the rich pay no taxes or obey no laws will make the world a better place. cy from arlington, va

    May 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  52. r.landschoot

    no matter whoo wins, citizens will be losers. Obama's foreign and economic policies are Bush genereated, and if Romney wins they will be continued. The country is in grips of military indusrial gurus, financed by wall street. So what change will be allowed by them. Sad,

    bob l Ocala, florida

    May 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  53. Bill in PA

    Jack, Jack;
    We all know it is the money that makes the decisions – all of 'em. The 1%ers own it all and will buy and instruct the minions who will serve them. President Obama could win but what can one person do in the face of the Courts, Legislators, rule makers bought and beholden to their owners? !

    May 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  54. Hafeez (New York)

    Hi Jack,
    the issue of Immigration will play a deciding factor in Presidential race. Unless Republicans show some flexibility dealing with immigration issue, there will never be Republican President in the White House.
    Romney must stop saying that he is in the favor of Legal immigration. I believe every American agree with that. But things has changed in America in the past years and now the faith of Presidential race will rest on Latino voters NOT on White voters. Good Luck Romney.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  55. Thom Richer

    Jack, I sure as Hell hope it is not decided on one issue. However, many will vote on "an" issue so I guess it may be one that is grounded in religion. Religion has steadily been creeping more and more into the governing of this supposed country of separation of church and state. It won't be war. American's are just about fully acceptable that we are at war for decades at a time without much thought humanity wise. Ok for us...wrong for others. Hopefully there will be enough us us to cast our vote for the man, not an issue come November. Good question, Jack.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    May 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  56. TomInRochNY

    The key issues will be how insane the economic cure from the right, how intractable they are and how much they want to stick with their "trickle down" policies. Oh, and where are the JOBS, JOBS, JOBS?

    Tom, Rochester, NY

    May 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  57. curtis in philadelphia

    The real issue is that its May 3rd, six months from the election and anything could happen. How 'bout those Mets Jack?

    May 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  58. chris

    1. obamacare they passed wihtout reading the 2,700 pages bill and without r=lettting us know what is buried in it prey the supreme court up holds it stop it from ruining us and 2. getting gouged att eh pum and 3 syloyndra all have to do with taxes and economy oh missing from the front page news exxonmobile givign 50 million tot eh obsma campaigh

    May 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  59. joshua

    crippling debt, high unemployment, stagnant economic growth and corruption in the white house.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  60. Jim, Denver CO

    Jack,
    As has been said before "It's the economy stupid!". Economy and jobs are always the key issues after a recession. We just had a doozy of one, and it is still lingering on.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  61. Mr. D

    Issues, what issues? It will be a popularity contest determined by demographics or "how many times have I seen your face on TV." Or better yet, who is most believable while blowing in our collective ears, telling us what we want to hear. What a country.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  62. Pete in Florida

    Something's wrong here – you're not directly attacking Obama today. Anyhow...if the elction's a squeaker it will undoubtedly be decided by Republican trickery, chicanery and cheating, just like in 2000 and 2004; you know, the same old stuff – disenfranchising voters, rigging Diebold voting machines, "losing" some paper votes and mis-tallying others, closing some polling places early and/or understaffing them, and local Repub gov't officials interfering with the voting process in various and sundry ways. Kinda like Russia and Iraq, come to think of it.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  63. Paul in NC

    For the vast majority of voters the election is about economic issues; jobs, taxes, spending and deficits. Obama has to run on what he has accomplished in those ares and what he can credibly claim he will accomplish going forward. Romney claims that he can do better than Obama in all aspects of the economy. His claims are based on rhetoric and lack any empirical evidence he can do so. His positions on these issues are very fluid and that makes it impossible to assess what the final product will be. So the election comes down to a choice between "what you see is what you get" and "trust me, I know better".

    May 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  64. RickFromDetroit

    The economy will decide the November Election unless:
    [1] A major scandal unfolds for either candidate.
    [2] Either candidate makes a major blunder before the election. [ President Carter' loss to President Reagan was do to Carter' refusal to support PATCO [Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization] Reagan told PATCO he would support them, and after PATCO campaigned for Reagan, Reagan de-certified the union. This led to the decline of the unions.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  65. MYSTEROIUS

    We have one candidate who changes his mind on issues depending on which way the wind is blowing, or who's in the audience, and what he thinks they want to hear. I call that being dishonest AND disingenious. And, who's policies brought this country to its knees.

    We have another candidate who's trying to help the middle class, and those who are "trying to reach the middle class," as he worded it. At least President Obama keeps his word, to the best of his ability. With a Republican House who've tried to block and destroy everything President Obama has or desires to accomplish, it's amazing anything at all got done. Has he accomplished everything he tried to do? Perhaps not. But he accomplished most of the promises he made on the campaign trail.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  66. Gigi Oregon

    After three plus years of ugly behavior toward President Obama I will not vote for a party that has sat on their hands and tried to destroy the government just to win back the White house . I'm smart enough to know corruption when I see it. In my opinion, each person will say to themselves, Ihh

    May 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  67. bob z. from pa.

    obama would not get my vote if he gave a million bucks

    May 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  68. Michael Bindner, Alexandria VA

    Tax policy and plutocracy will be the issues, with a dash of social issues (both gay marriage and the war on women). Romney will be equated with the guy who last fired you – which is especially apt in some companies where he was that guy. The fact that Rombot makes Al Gore look warm and gushy will also slip in. Under it all will be age. The Viet Nam generation, of which Romney is a part, will be seen to have had their turn. The late boomers are keeping their turn.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  69. Cee.La

    It will be the economy, and if the SCOTUS rules against the presidents healthcare reform,it could be that too.....

    May 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  70. Nancy, Tennessee

    The candidate who makes the voters believe that they can fix the economy and jobs will be plentiful will win in November. So keep your head covered and wear big boots. It's going to get deep.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  71. Cy Gardner

    "It would be a nice change if the politicians took note and stayed away from the wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage this year". Why do you corporate media hacks look at something the Republicans do that is sleazy and pretend that both parties are equally at fault? The GOP want the election to be about lies, smears and petty minutiae. They are the ones who run from the issues because their platform is : Give the rich everything. cy from arlington, va

    May 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  72. Rich McKinney, Texas

    What is going to decide this election is the price for gasoline when the people go to vote. I know that the president has little if anything to do with the price of gasoline but most voters don't know that. The voter can not control what goes on is Washington and they can not control the economy but they can decide to vote for the guy that they think will shape the policies the best for the oil companies.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  73. Leta

    CHARACTER – is the most important factor for me to vote on the presidential candidate.
    One or two or many issues doesn't matter to me because any elected president come November 2012
    will not be able to fix the economic problems facing America within the next 4 years.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  74. H.R

    What matters is don't touch Social Security, Medicare, Women's rights, and Public Schools.
    Why shouldn't things like abortions, gay marriage, immigration, birth control, and all the things brought forward in the Republican Primary be a factor when we vote? They stirred the pot so let's go to the voting booth with it.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  75. A Southern Lady - North Carolina

    The economy and Jobs will be the main issues. The President needs to remind voters that the Republicans said "No" to everything he tried to do to help the economy. Romney said "No" to helping the auto industry which is now very profitable and employing thousands who would otherwise have been jobless. The Republicans in the House signed a pledge to Gordon Norquist and not the people who they are supposed to represent. Romney will probably have more money in the general election than he did when running to be the R's candidate. Let us show ourselves and the world that President Obama's intelligence, clear thinking and concern for the middle class are what will count on far more than the millions of dollars that Romney will bring to the table.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  76. Bobby E. Lahmon Jackson MS

    A continuous uptrend in the economy should be the ultimate decider but in such polarizing political times as these almost any issue can take center stage who knows ? but I don't buy the tight polls hype, that seemed to have been the case in 2008 but election night results proved quite different from all the media hype of a tight race

    May 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  77. Don Desaulniers (Belleville, Canada)

    Money and marketing will decide this election. Whichever party can spend the most money to effectively debase the other candidate will win. Sadly, truth and integrity will take an extended holiday until the farce is over.
    By the way, as a Canadian watching your system from the north, may I say that these thousand day presidential election campaigns are ridiculous.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  78. Miguel Morris-Texas

    Two things are going to decide this year's Presidental election: The economy including jobs, gas prices, and the National Debt. The Presidential goals, vision, and promises. Here his record has some great points, but not everyone thought DADT was a good idea. The fall out is already being felt with same sex dating and dancing. Give us a break. I agree it is their choice but not mine so do not ram this down my thoat. The health care will be found unconstitutional because we should not be forced to take a National Health Care Program without a no risk cop out. Let the Congress buy into it as well as a National earned retirement and I will reconsider. TxMoose. Austin, Texas.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  79. Nick C

    I would say the most important issue is the economy, or more importantly, the federal reserve. To fix a problem, you must find the problem at its' source. No institution has more power than the Federal Reserve, and there is nothing federal about it. Fractional reserve banking will end the dollar if it is not reversed soon.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  80. It's Tough to be a Dem in AZ

    Twenty years later, it's still "the economy, stupid."

    May 3, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  81. Felixaubin

    Jobs, Romney talks a lot of unemloyment rate

    May 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  82. Robert, Phoenix, Arizona

    I'm not concerned about the immigration issue. If we don't get the economy rolling, we might as well all emigrate somewhere else, and Arizona should become a Northern state of Mexico.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  83. Tom C Pinehurst, NC

    It's the hair, stupid. Does'nt the guy with the best hair always win?...well, most of the time.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  84. Kyle Pawliuk

    THE ECONOMY!!!! JOBS!!! I know Obama was given the short hand of the stick from 8 years of Bush; however, the unemployment rate is still unacceptable. With rising gas prices putting further strain on the average American's budget Obama's future successes depend on a dramatic improvement in the economy and employment.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  85. Steve

    No issues, "ultimately" the election will me decided the way it always is, by who most people in their gut are most comfortable with seeing on their TV for four years as our President...Romney????

    IL

    May 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  86. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    The deciding issues will be:

    The Wartime (failing)economy;
    The continuation of these wars and wartime economy, i.e. Afghanistan etc. and world wide bases;
    The death of Americans in these follies for the industrial military complex; and
    the culture of corruption that has marinaded in the meat of local, state and federal public service bureaucracies.

    The real issue is that we no longer have an American culture, we have a divided polycultural milieu driven by political favors, greed, self interest, you know the antichristian leadership, so-called which collectively cannot separate finance from faith. Rots o ruck to us grindstoners.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  87. Glenn

    Unemployment the economy illegal aliens and the future oof America

    May 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  88. Jennifer M in Winnipeg

    There are many 'issues' that the people have and want dealt with, but I think in the long run they will vote for the person that they trust will work hard for the Country as a whole. Or at least that's the way it should be.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  89. Ed Fern

    If Israel bombs Iran which shuts the Strait of Hormuz which drags the US into the war to keep gasoline below $10/gallon, no other issue will matter at all.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  90. Gigi Oregon

    After three plus years of ugly behavior toward President Obama I will not vote for a party that has sat on their hands and tried to destroy the government just to win back the White house. I'm smart enough to know corruption when I see it. I'm going to trust that each person will say to themselves "what is important to my family and communities health and welfare". If we vote accordingly to that health care will remain, and wars will be fought more like President Obama got bin Laden. Immigration wars will discontinue when the government goes after the appetite of the people who buy the drug here in the US. How can I vote for a party that destroys the reputation of their own party, then rallies around Romney for the conservative people. President Obama has done well, very well and with out the leaders of the Republican party and will receive my conservative vote come November.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  91. Mark Toles, Bethesda, MD

    Romney can't make the economy the issue when his policies are identical to the Republicans who wrecked it in the first place and left Obama with a near-Depression. We won't forget Romney in 2008 told Detroit to "Drop Dead." Add in that Romney closed American plants and outsourced jobs in his role as a Vulture capitalist and Romney really doesn't have much of an economic case to make at the end of the day. And it will cost him the election.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  92. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The Republicans continue to say President Obama has issues but they have issues telling the American people what their plans are for the American people and I take issue with that.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  93. Glenn

    at 2 billion a week it should be why the hell America is in the middle east

    May 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  94. Elmin

    Because the undecided voter decides who wins the election, the deciding issue will be something that is personal to each candidate. Religion, abortion, gay marriage. None of those 3 things should be important. What happened to individual rights?

    May 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  95. Hank - Jacksonville, NC

    It is the economy, Jack. The Republicans have put forth a budget. It may be a terrible budget, but the Republicans had the courage to put it out there. Obama has a very fair and comprehensive budget proposal, the Simpson – Bowles Plan, but his political calculations won't let him put it before Congress. When it comes to the economy, he has no courage and only plays the game by pushing little budget buttons like taxing the rich. The issue will be the economy and I am betting the Republicans will win.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  96. David Nova Scotia

    Follow the money Jack, CNN's report that 19/20 seniors can not retire means Americans will grab at straws and vote for change. Sadly that change just might drive the last nail in the coffin.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  97. Mateo, Miami

    In a word Trust.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  98. rex in portland, oregon

    Anything that Obama does or says is an "issue". How he failed a Chinese dissident, how he raised the price of gasoline; how he mismanaged the Justice department; how he botched the great Gulf spill disaster; how he just hates business; how he loves gays and wants them to marry each other; how he isn't even a Christian; how he has allowed illegal immigrants to take over the country - the fictional list goes on and on and on.....

    To me the real issue is honesty. IT should be, since you and I and even God knows that the president has little effect on the economy and has no control over the "morals" of Americans. We have one group making all sorts of false claims, putting the president continually on the defensive and beclouding any and all important issues with bombast and lies. This creates an issue to me. I could never vote for anyone who claims, without a shred of evidence or proof, that he could do a better job with far fewer assets, than Obama has done. Honesty versus lies. It is easy.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  99. Carole

    Of course it is the economy (stupid). As for JK in Minnesota. So you really think that the O'Bama's are like the rest of us and ony have 1 checking, savings, CD, or IRA account and a small pension? I think not. They more than likely have money elsewhere, but are unwilling to be honest about it.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  100. Tony, Miami

    Jacks, Let's be honest. Of course, the economy should be the overwhelming issue in November, and whether Obama has done good or bad in this area should be voters choice. But that's not the real issue. The key issue will be race, Obama's race. Overtly and covertly everything will be done by the Republicans, white supremacists and all the big white rich companies and business leaders to prevent the first Black president being reelected. It's the man's race stupid, not the economy.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  101. Iwandr

    Rick, Florida. Nothing any republican has ever proposed will be the answer to economic problems. Customers are the only answer. Nothing else matters. That said the economy will still be the top issue.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  102. Glenn

    first you got to get someome to like you before you can figure out What issue(s) will ultimately decide the presidential election?
    The Mexicans don't like Mitt Romney, the Christians don't like Mitt Romney the woman's don't like Mitt Romney So who will
    vote for Mitt Romney the people on Mars

    May 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  103. Nina Fox

    Jack,

    If the economy gets any worse, my ATM will be handing out I.O.U.s!

    May 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  104. Jason, Chicago, IL

    That's an easy one, Jack: Race.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  105. Sam

    The issues that will prove the candidate are jobs and economy; having said that, if Romney is victoriois, he will use his power obtained by guile to push legislation ruining the rights of anyone who is not like him: wealthy.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  106. Susan from Idaho

    The issues are the gains we have made. It depends on what party you are affiliated with as to how positive they are. We had eight years of digging a hole that can't filled in four. Let the chips fall where they may neither candidate has all the answers. I still believe in our president. He has inner strength and wants to continue leading even though it is an uphill battle.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  107. Don, Boca Raton FL

    While the economy and jobs will be the most important issues in this election the swing states will be decided by immigration and women’s issues. And that will all be in Obama’s favor. Romney is to plastic and out of touch to make up the difference where it really counts.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  108. Faye Kename, Felton, CA

    Two cynical but realistic words: "Corporate money"! It's the golden rule. They who have the gold make the rules.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  109. Max Brooks from Florida

    The economy and job creation are definitely the big issues and if one of the Presidential candidates wants to win by a landslide, they should campaign on marijuana legalization. Industrial hemp is one of the biggest cash crops around but we continue to import tons of it every year instead of just growing it ourselves. Reclassifying marijuana would create jobs WITHOUT bloating government even further so both sides should be able to agree on it.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  110. Riley ODay

    National Health care, immigration.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  111. Name* Chad

    The same issue as usual: "dog fight make-believe" and play "catch me if you can" with the Taliban.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  112. Don, Boca Raton FL

    I predict a republican mutiny and that will be the big issue. Not enough republicans are inspired to campaign and vote for Romney in November. That gives the incumbent “Obama” in a very strong position in spite of the economy and unemployment. The Hispanic vote and immigration will be the deciding edge.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  113. JB, Soldotna, AK

    The issue of whether to vote for a Muslim christian or a Mormon christian, both are identical in their formations and governmental desire to control others and not Christians at all. Major trouble either way so it's no vote for me.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  114. Larry,Springfield,Ohio

    Jack,it all depends on how public feels about who treated their dog best!

    May 3, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  115. marybeth, massachusetts

    Our country is facing a lot of challenging issues these days–lack of decent jobs, poor economy, war in Afghanistan, rising food and gas prices, high cost of living, high cost of education, lack of health insurance, which means no health care, crumbling infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.), direct attacks on women's rights (birth control, abortion), attempts to disenfranchise certain populations (the poor, blacks, Hispanics, students), threats to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.

    But it isn't all bad–Wall Street and corporations and the wealthy have seen record profits and growth, so the top 1% and business are doing very, very well. Plus they don't pay any taxes thanks to all of the loopholes or pay significantly less in taxes than a working class citizen. Mitt Romney only pays 13% in taxes, compared to nearly 1/3 of income for less wealthy workers.

    What the issues are depends upon who you are. If you're Mitt Romney or someone like him, then your concerns are not the economy and jobs but tax reform so you can pay even less in taxes or if you're a corporation then you want to outsource and offshore as many jobs as possible so you can pocket the difference in what you'd pay an American worker vs. what you'd pay a 4 year old Chinese worker.

    I'm concerned about jobs and the economy, but as a woman, I'm also very very concerned about where Romney and the Republicans plan to take women–back to the 13th century. I'd be chattel with no right to control my own body or make decisions for myself. If I can't do that, which means controlling the size of my family, jobs and the economy don't matter one bit because I'll be tied down by constant pregnancy and child care. I'll have no opportunities at all, not to help my family or myself.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  116. Gman

    The Gop will go with Gay marriage or continue their war on women. Anything to divert America's attention from the real problems in this country.
    The Democrats will continue to hide....

    May 3, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  117. Iwandr

    Rick, Florida. Unless you have customers, no company is going to hire more workers. Tax rates only mean something to Polititions. If you don't have customers you don't get jobs, if you don't get jobs, where are the customers. Can you say "catch 22"

    May 3, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  118. Blake from Florida

    Jack ... the economic situation varies greatly between states, so what might need to be fixed in Florida, is different than Michigan. If you fix Michigan,it might not affect Florida. This is too complex to paint with a single colored brush – they will need to diversify their approach all over the US. To avoid discussion on those Gay or Abortion controversial issues, have the commentators on the debates focused on the real issues and give it no airtime.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:57 pm |