Can we be honest? Let’s cut through the spin and the rhetoric and look at what the American public have to say about their concerns as voters. Everyday you hear about another random issue or gaffe that is completely unrelated to what's really on the minds of families and small businesses across the nation. But the distractions aren’t working.
A recent Public Notice poll, conducted by the Tarrance Group from August 19-23, 2012, found that after more than a year of campaigning the top issues for voters are still jobs and the economy, followed by debt and government spending. Click here for a full infographic breaking down the results further. For those who suggest the American public isn't ready for a real discussion on spending and budgetary priorities, our poll shows something different.
Wednesday night, Paul Ryan will deliver remarks at at the Republican National Convention. His speech will likely re-ignite debate over how the Ryan budget impacts Romney's chances of winning the White House. Of the likely voters we surveyed, nearly half (49 percent) said they had seen, heard or read about Ryan's budget. The majority of voters who knew about Ryan's budget approved of it (52 percent). That number is driven by independents (55 percent) and - surprise - seniors (54 percent).
The American people care about the serious issues facing our country, and they're ready to reward their leaders for stepping up to address our nation's biggest challenges. What was once a political "third rail" to be demagogued by the opposing campaign is now the hallmark of a serious candidate willing to level with the American people about the crisis that both parties helped create – and both parties will have to help solve.
According to the poll, a majority of voters (67%) believe there needs to be either major (46%) or modest (21%) changes to Medicare, and solid majorities see a direct link between the debt and the health of the economy (67%) as well as that of their own family. As Politico put it, Americans are responding to the "tough love" message of fiscal responsibility.
With unemployment at 8.3 percent and the 50 percent increase in our debt in the past three and half years, it’s no wonder Washington doesn't want to talk about the real issues. But these are the issues that Americans say are their priorities. These are the issues they will have in mind when they make their decisions in November.
Not only are Americans concerned about the debt, but an overwhelming majority understand the impact it has on the economy and their families. It doesn’t take an economist to recognize that $16 trillion in debt is holding back the economy. They make hard decisions everyday at home around a kitchen table and Washington should learn to do the same.
The American people have had enough of empty promises from Washington politicians. They want leaders who will give an honest assessment of our fiscal crisis and come forward to address it head-on with bold solutions. Now, more than ever, the message of fiscal responsibility is a winner.
Both parties would do well to drop the distractions and keep the last two months of the campaign focused on the issues that matter. We can't afford to put this conversation off any longer.
Gretchen Hamel is a political messaging and communications strategist-- with experience in preparing candidates and elected officials for debates-- who worked in Iowa on Senator Joni Ernst’s campaign.