SALT LAKE CITY — Amid the caustic cacophony of the presidential race its hard to hear where the candidates stand on things that matter.

Though their nasty rhetoric makes for no-they-didnt reality TV, White House hopefuls would be talking about the economy, national security and health care if Utahns had their druthers.

Those are the top three issues 500 registered voters identified as the most important to them in considering a presidential candidate, a new Deseret News/KSL poll shows. Those surveyed were asked to rank their top three on a list of 14 issues. Least important were climate change, poverty and abortion, the poll showed.

The Deseret News and KSL-TV will roll out a series of opinion polls Sunday and Monday aimed at getting at whats important to Utah voters heading to presidential preference caucuses next Tuesday and the general election in November. And, of course, the results will offer a glimpse of the horse race among the leading Democratic and Republican contenders.

The economy was mentioned as important by 56 percent of all respondents, ranking well ahead of any other issue. National security followed at 34 percent and health care next at 27 percent. Dan Jones #38; Associates conducted the survey March 8-15.

Even though jobs have recovered from the 2008 recession, people still lack confidence in the economy going forward, pollster Dan Jones said. Even though Utah has a healthier economy than many parts of the country, when you add the fresh memories of the Great Recession to the current signs pointing to economic unrest in China and Europe, it is no wonder the economy is most important to voters.

Money matters are historically a top issue for voters who are always concerned about finding and keeping jobs, interest rates, saving money and sending children to college.

That shifted slightly in the 2002 election when national security and protecting the nations borders was top of mind after 9/11. Health care, too, is usually something voters care about.

The poll shows that Republicans are more likely than Democrats or unaffiliated voters to cast their presidential votes with a close eye on the candidates national security views at 42 percent. Only 16 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of unaffiliated voters listed national security one of their top three issues.

Democrats and unaffiliated voters believe income inequality is an important issue far more than Republicans. Twenty-nine percent of Democrats and 21 percent of unaffiliated voters named the issue important, while only 5 percent of Republicans did.

Nasty rhetoric among the candidates has swallowed any substantive discussion of public policy in the presidential debates, particularly on the Republican side.

BYU political science professor Mike Barber found Utahns choice of the economy as the top issue interesting given how well the state is doing.

Their confidence is not reflecting the robustness of the local economy, he said.

But that along with national security and health care have been the biggest topics when candidates have debated issues, Barber said.

In many cases voters tend to take cues from the candidates as to what are the important issues, he said.

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I think we may be in a position to challenge the best year in the 108-year history of the Los Angeles port, its executive director, Gene Seroka, said in an interview. That was 2006. He added, The US economy, not to be confused with the global economy, is strong and continues to grow.

His counterpart at the Port of Long Beach, Jon W. Slangerup, said, It looks like we will have the biggest first quarter in our 105-year history and the third quarter should be like the third quarter of 2015, which was a record.

The Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, which account for about 40 percent of all the goods entering the US, employ at least 60,000 people earning between $80,000 and $300,000 a year with retirement benefits that rival the most generous compensation in the history of organized American labor, according to Slangerup.

Total employment for all the US ports, including the men and women transporting goods by truck and rail to destinations throughout the country, is about 50 times that number. And that doesnt include all the jobs of people getting goods to retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, Slangerup said.

Heres more good news: The ports are doing more while polluting less. Long Beachs Middle Harbor will become the worlds first mega-terminal with zero emissions, the fourth-biggest port in North America and the worlds first all-electric port, when its fully operational next month, Slangerup said.

Thats not to say theres no downside to liberalizing trade. A much-discussed recent paper has documented the way increased trade with China hurt American workers. Economists are recalibrating their professions favorable outlook on free trade, though theres certainly no emerging consensus for more protectionism.

Overall, the US jobs picture has continued to improve as the ports boom. The unemployment rate has fallen to 4.9 percent and is predicted to decline to 4.6 percent next year. The US enjoys a perennial trade surplus in manufactured goods, excluding oil, with 20 countries with which it has negotiated trade agreements (China isnt among them). And whatever disruption is caused by Chinas slowing economy is increasingly offset by US trade with Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia, says Slangerup.

As US port traffic began to surge last year, it coincided with growing confidence. The Bloomberg US Weekly Consumer Comfort Index, which measures how consumers feel about the economy, the climate for purchasing goods and services and their personal finances, is the strongest since 2008. Many industry observers look to us as a leading indicator, says Seroka of Los Angeles, who at this point says 2016 will be better for us than 2015.

(With assistance from Shin Pei)


In the Budget, the Chancellor talked a lot about uncertainties in the global economy. But if that was the main issue affecting the growth outlook, we would expect a bounce back in future years. That is not what the OBR is projecting. Growth of 2pc is forecast for this year and the projections are only slightly higher, 2.1pc to 2.2pc, in future years. This is a recognition of the "new normal" for the UK and other major economies, in which growth is not benefiting from the tailwinds we saw before the financial crisis.

In the mid-2000s, a credit boom in the US and Europe, accompanied by rapid growth in China and other emerging economies, fuelled growth and excessive confidence about our prospects. We are now having to face up to the new reality.

For a mature, services-oriented economy like the UK, which has already achieved a high standard of living, we should not expect much more than 2pc growth. As the Chancellor pointed out in his Budget speech, this does not mean the UK economy is doing badly. Since 2013, the UK has been first or second in the G7 growth league. We were the fastest-growing G7 economy in 2014 and we will be competing with the US for the top slot this year.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) More than 50 percent of Americans said the economy is in poor shape in a new CBS News/New York Times poll released Tuesday.

The poll also showed Americans remain pessimistic about the US fight against ISIS militants, and indicated that President Barack Obama's approval rating was stable - but below 50 percent.

In the poll taken between Thursday, April 30 and Sunday, May 3, Americans continued to say the economy and jobs were the most important problem in the country. But after three months' worth of positive assessments of the economy, pessimism now prevails, the poll said.

A total of 53 percent of respondents said they believe the economy is bad, while 45 percent said the economy is good. In March, 51 percent rated the economy as good, and in February, 54 percent did, the poll said.

But back in May of last year, 43 percent said the economy was good, and back in May 2012, only 32 percent did - while 67 percent of respondents back then said the economy was bad.

Most Americans also said the country was on the wrong track. A total of 53 percent said the country was headed in the wrong direction, while only 31 percent said it was headed in the right direction.

More than six in 10 Americans said the fight against Islamic State militants was going poorly for the US A total of 64 percent said the fight was going badly, while only 27 percent said it was going well.

Republican voters in particular rated the fight against ISIS as going poorly, at a total of 81 percent of respondents. A total of 53 percent of Democrats likewise rated the ISIS fight as going badly, as well as 65 percent of independents.

President Obama's rating remained stable compared with March and February at 45 percent. A total of 44 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the job the president is doing.

Ratings for Congress were overwhelmingly poor. After a slight uptick in March, a mere 12 percent of Americans now approve of how Congress is doing. A total of 80 percent of respondents said they disapprove.

Americans' views of both political parties tended toward the unfavorable - with 29 percent of respondents rating the GOP favorably, and 43 percent rating the Democrats favorably.

A majority of respondents expressed disapproval of the Affordable Care Act - at 52 percent disapproving and 43 percent approving. The polling on the subject broke down along party lines, the poll said.

A total of 68 percent of Americans support legal status for undocumented immigrants now in the US, and 57 percent believe there should be a path to citizenship. Only 29 percent called for deportation of illegal immigrants.

On the subject of same-sex marriage, a total of 57 percent said it should be legal - a majority, but down three points from February. While most Democrats (66 percent) and independents (61 percent) supported legalizing same-sex marriage, most Republicans (61 percent) did not.

But just over half of Americans - 61 percent - said they believed small business owners should be allowed to refuse wedding services to same-sex couples if it came into conflict with their religious beliefs, the poll said.

The poll was conducted among 1,027 adults nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.