Whom do you trust?

If Barack Obama has reason to worry about sliding poll numbers, the Democrats as a party might shortly enter panic mode.  In the space of a few months, they have tossed aside their credibility on most of the issues, according to a Rasmussen poll, including their onetime strong suit, the economy.  Now Republicans have overtaken them on eight of ten issues, and threaten to eclipse them on health care and education as well:

Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on eight out of 10 key electoral issues, including, for the second straight month, the top issue of the economy. They’ve also narrowed the gap on the remaining two issues, the traditionally Democratic strong suits of health care and education.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that voters trust the GOP more on economic issues 46% to 41%, showing little change from the six-point lead the party held last month. This is just the second time in over two years of polling the GOP has held the advantage on economic issues. The parties were close on the issue in May, with the Democrats holding a one-point lead.

Voters not affiliated with either party trust Republicans more to handle the economy by a 46% to 32% margin.

That last point is the big takeaway.  For decades, the Democrats have led on the economy, mostly by being on the outside of power in DC.  They promise boatloads of benefits without explaining the costs, and demonize Republicans for exercising fiscal responsibility (occasions that had admittedly become rare) through anecdotal stories of people ignored by the government.  Now that they hold all the strings, the costs for their expansive and overwhelming agenda can no longer remain hidden, and people — most critically independents — are reeling away from the Democrats.

The data on health care and education show how poorly the Democrats have performed.  On both questions, their overall edge falls in the margin of error in the polling; education, Democrats lead by three points (41%-38%) and on health care, four points (46%-42%).  On Social Security, the gap goes to 42%-37% GOP, with independents evenly split.  In Ethics in Government, the results have gone back to a statistical tie, with the GOP up by a point (34%-33%).  A majority of independents are not sure, which gives an indication of how far both parties have fallen on that measure.

But the economy is the bellwether of Democratic woes in 2010.  Men trust the GOP more by a 14-point margin (52%-38%) while women provide a statistical dead heat (43%-42% Democrat).  That suggests that so-called soccer moms may provide a big backlash to Democrats simply by erasing the gender gap at the polls in the midterms.  Among age demographics, only the youngest voters trust Democrats more than Republicans, and only by a 45%-36% margin.  Voters under $40K per year trust Democrats more, but the voters in all other income demographics trust Republicans, with a 63%-26% split among those earning $75K-$100K.

The political class question is most revealing.  Those who consider themselves apart from the political class trust Republicans more on the economy by a wide margin (58%-28%), while those inside the political class support Democrats … 99%-1%.  No, that is not a typo.  It’s a demonstration of the slavish devotion to Democrats within the political class, and the breakout indicates that the Democrats have more trouble than even this poll shows on voter trust.