It's a seven point margin right now and could widen if we end up in another recession.
For the first time since the monthly metric has been recorded by Gallup, Americans gave Republicans a clear edge over Democrats when it comes to who they trust to handle what they consider the nation's most important problem, according to a poll released Friday.
Gallup asked respondents what they consider the nation's top problem, then followed up with a question on which of the political parties they trust to better handle it. The problem most cited, not surprisingly, was jobs/unemployment. Respondents favored Republicans over Democrats by a 7-point margin, 44 percent to 37 percent. Nineteen percent of those polled said they had no opinion or saw no difference between the parties.
Americans more trusted Democrats in years past when they identified the situation in Iraq as the most important problem. The problem switched to the economy during the recession and more Americans continued to trust Democrats until now.
When it comes to protecting the country and keeping it prosperous, more Americans continued to turn toward the Republican Party for leadership.
Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said that they trust the GOP with the task of "protecting the country from international terrorism and military threats," while 38 percent believe Democrats are best-equipped. That finding is not new. Republicans have topped Democrats on the issue of defense for most of the past decade.
Part of this result has to be that people view the party on the outs more favorably than the party in control while things are going badly. That's human nature.
But the fact is that this is the first time since Gallup has been asking the question that the GOP has come out on top. Democrats generally do very well on economic questions simply because they promise more goodies for taxpayers and it's easier to support Santa Claus than Scrooge. But it could be the beginning of a realization on the part of the voter that things have to change if we are to get out from under this mess.