The thorniest political issues of the '00s, '90s and even the '80s still linger like a bad cold. So political scientists say they may flare up again as the hottest issues of the 2010s.
Utah pollster Dan Jones and Kirk Jowers, head of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, separately prepared lists of what they foresee as the coming decade's biggest issues. Their lists closely match, and reflect the top unresolved issues of recent decades.
For example, they agree on the future top issue: the economy, specifically, Jowers said, "How we rebound from the recession."
It sounds like 1992, when during another recession, candidate Bill Clinton famously said, "It's the economy, stupid," and rode that to the White House.
Jowers and Jones also listed the same probable No. 2 concern: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Especially if there are a lot of body bags coming home. But the cost of the war will be an issue anyway," Jones said. Jowers added that not just Afghanistan and Iraq, "but the U.S. use of force abroad" will be a growing debate.
Both say abortion and gay rights will be big. "The most controversial issue I have ever seen in my polling is abortion," Jones said. "Coming close now is same-sex marriage."
Both also say health care will be big, even if Congress passes a final reform bill. "It will still be very controversial. … People will be constantly finding fault" with new plans, Jones said.
Both say funding education will continue as a tough Utah issue. "It may be the No. 1 issue for the next decade in Utah as we have the highest number of kids per taxpayer in the nation," Jowers said.
Other big issues they foresee: debates over nuclear energy, global warming (including local impacts on snow and water supplies), and how much privacy to give up for security.
— Lee Davidson
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