Even as politicians try to absorb the impact from the latest jobs figures, the number of Republicans who said the economy and business are their top issues has grown, according to a Gallup poll released on Friday.
According to Gallup, 36% of Republicans in April said the economy and business were their top issues, up from 32% in March. That is roughly the same as those who say government spending and power are their top issues, 37%, and far higher than those who make social issues and moral values the most important factor, 15%.
The findings come as the latest jobs numbers were released on Friday giving something for all sides. The Labor Department said that employers added a net of 244,000 jobs, but the jobless rate went up to 9%, from 8.8% in March. Because of the brighter hiring picture, more people returned to the work force seeking jobs, which explains the rising unemployment rate even though the number of jobs rose.
The Gallup finding helps explain the playing field as Republicans gear up and enter a more serious phase of their presidential nominating cycle. The number of contenders remains large, at more than a dozen or so, but the first debate, drawing five candidates, was held on Thursday night. That was akin to the first pitch of the new baseball season; it doesn’t matter who came to play the game but it did matter that it signaled “Game On,” for a lengthy and complicated period before the 2012 election.