Voters care about health care, immigration, gun rights, the economy and senior issues.

Experts say the big issues heading into the Nov. 6 midterm election are Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh.

We're going with the voters. Beginning Monday, The Daily Item will present the five key issues that matter, as selected by Valley voters through a recent survey. More than 350 people responded to our survey. They determined the issues listed above as the five "most important issues" to them heading into the midterm.

Five issues clearly stood out among the 10 offered in the survey. Health care appeared on more than 77 percent of surveys completed, while the economy and jobs, long the standard bearer in elections, was important to more than 63 percent of respondents. The remaining three issues were all on at least 40 percent of surveys.

Chris Ellis, Bucknell University associate professor of political science, said that though a midterm is very often more about the economy than people like to admit, "This year might be little bit different." 

He said that until a month ago, he thought the midterm election would be a referendum on Trump.

"Now it's a referendum on Kavanaugh," Ellis said. "Republicans have become very energized by the fact he was treated unfairly. It sort of woke up Republicans who were not paying attention before.

"The main issue is how was this handled, was he treated properly," Ellis said. "The story of this election is partisans coming home. Will Republicans vote for Republicans, even if they don't like Trump; will Democrats for Democrats, even if they don't like their leaders?" 

"What this election is boiling down to, in a word, is Trump," said G. Terry Madonna, professor of public affairs and director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. He is also the director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

He said Republicans who support the president want Republicans to remain in control, while Democrats who oppose him want Democrats to take control of Congress.

"Not that there aren't issues," Madonna said. 

He said on health care, Democrats are accusing Republicans of trying to exclude people with pre-existing conditions.

"The economy has improved, but it still percolates as an issue," he said. 

Republicans are arguing the economy is doing much better.

"The Democrats, they want to talk about Obama, that Obama really started this (improved economy)," Madonna said.

"Republicans say Democrats will raise your taxes and regulate many aspects of the economy, which Trump eliminated or modified, which is why economy is doing well," he said.

Related to immigration, Democrats oppose a border wall and say Republicans are separating immigrants and their children.

Madonna said Kavanaugh, the newly appointed Supreme Court justice, plays into the election.

"Polls show Republicans seem to be more energized and are more likely to vote than before," Madonna said. "That could play out in a couple close congressional races around the country."

He said, though, some prognosticators still think Democrats will win 23 seats to take control of the House. 

As far as the caravan of Central American immigrants heading for the U.S. border, Madonna said he didn't think they will reach the border by Nov. 6, so he didn't think it would play into the election.

He also said it's too soon to tell how the bombs sent to critics of Donald Trump — and his opponents' accusations that he is encouraging violence with his criticism — will impact ballots on election day.

Recommended for you