Adding in the next tier, "very important," the economy swells to 93 percent, followed by health care, called very important or more by 82 percent, and the deficit, by 76 percent.
A deep challenge for the Democrats is that the Republicans lead among likely voters across almost all these issues – by margins ranging from 63-30 percent among those who rate the deficit as important to 51-42 percent among those who say the same about health care. Only among those assigning high importance to local issues do the Democrats pull about even.
With two months to go, there are any number of potential wildcards in the 2010 elections. Generalized anti-incumbency is a threat to all, not just Democrats. Turnout is key; the generic congressional horse race, while 53-40 percent among likely voters, is a closer 47-45 percent among registered voters. That means Republican voters are more motivated to participate – and that who actually does show up is essential.
It's also true that midterm contests are only roughly captured by preferences nationally; they are in fact local contests, driven by local candidates and conditions. While the Republicans have a 13-point lead among likely voters now, the Democrats had a 22-point lead (among registered voters) in September 1982. But Reagan, similarly beleaguered then as Obama is now, lost just 26 House seats in that contest, about the average for a president's first midterm. Obama and the Democrats will be looking for that magic.
ABC News polls can be found at ABCNEWS.com at http://abcnews.com/pollingunit