MONTGOMERY, Ala., Aug. 1, 2012, – Unemployment is the most important election-year issue for Alabama voters, where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney enjoys a comfortable lead over President Barack Obama, according to a new poll by Montgomery-based Research Consultants.
Although unemployment dropped in Alabama from 10.6 percent at the end of 2009 to 7.8 percent in June, one-third of Alabamians view it as the most important issue. When asked an open-ended question about the "single most important problem facing the United States," 33 percent of survey respondents said unemployment followed by the economy, 16 percent; debt and spending, 15 percent; the candidates themselves, 14 percent; and Obama's healthcare law, 7 percent.
Alabamians are set to send electors to vote for the Republican presidential candidate for the ninth straight election since Jimmy Carter swept every Southern state except Virginia in 1976. According to the poll, 59 percent of Alabamians say they definitely are voting for Romney, while 34 percent say they definitely are voting for Obama.
The 25-point lead puts Romney in a better position than two Republican statewide candidates on the ballot. In the Supreme Court Chief Justice race, Republican Roy Moore leads Democrat Harry Lyon by 21 points (54 percent to 33 percent). In the race for president of the Alabama Public Service Commission, Democrat Lucy Baxley is clinging to a 2-point lead over Republican Twinkle Cavanaugh (44 percent to 42 percent).
The poll, which surveyed 600 Alabama voters and was completed July 26, also gauged support for a statewide referendum Sept. 18 on a constitutional amendment to borrow $467 million from the Alabama Trust Fund to meet shortfalls in the state's general fund budget. Voters who favor the measure as an alternative to raising taxes (38 percent) were outnumbered by voters who believe further spending cuts should be made (52 percent).
Several agricultural issues were polled by Research Consultant on behalf of the Alabama Farmers Federation. When questioned about these issues, 69 percent of respondents favored a sales tax exemption for farming supplies; 72 percent said providing more resources for career tech would create more jobs; 74 percent said more money is needed for rural roads; and 75 percent favor tax credits for companies that hire Alabama citizens.
State legislators dealing with a tight budget and sluggish economy are getting fair marks from voters. Fifty-five percent of voters believe their legislator is doing a “fair job” or are uncertain, while just 5 percent said "excellent" and 27 percent said "good." Only 13 percent said their legislator is doing a poor job.