Gallup reports that 16 percent of respondents mentioned some aspect of government as the U.S.’s most dire problem. This includes President Barack Obama, Congress, partisanship, or other political disputes. Thirteen percent named some aspect of the economy, which is down 4 percentage points from the previous year.
In the past two years, no issue has risen above a yearly average of 20 percent. The highest monthly average for government during 2015 was 19 percent, while the lowest was 13 percent.
“This contrasts with the last three presidential election cycles when at least one issue commanded significant public attention in the year prior to the election,” Gallup reports. “In 2011, for example, the dominant issues were the economy and unemployment; in 2007, the Iraq War; and in 2003, the economy.”
Yet, this is the first presidential election cycle since the survey began that the government was listed as the nation’s biggest problem, meaning that the impact it will have on the 2016 elections will be even more interesting. The success of candidates who challenge party leadership like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders could continue to define this election even as we get into key primaries and caucuses.
Turnout and voting behavior could turn the traditional political world on its head. National pollsters can’t predict how 2016 will turn out and the successes of Trump and Sanders have left political consultants slack-jawed.