During a time when politicians in Washington, DC are heavily focused on reducing the federal budget deficit, a new poll from the PEW Research Center for the People & the Press finds that the American public would rather see politicians act to improve the economy and the job situation, defend against terrorism, and improve education.
According to the poll, conducted January 5–9, 87 percent of Americans believe that strengthening the economy should be a top priority this year, followed closely by 84 percent who think that improving the job situation should be a top priority for the president and Congress in 2011. Americans also believe that defending against terrorism (73 percent), improving education (66 percent), and securing Social Security (66 percent) should be top priorities among the twenty-two issues tested. As shown in the graphic to the right, reducing the budget deficit (64 percent), ranks behind each of these other priorities.
In polling conducted every January since 2001, education has consistently finished in the top five issues in the PEW poll and is up slightly—from 65 percent—compared to last year’s poll. The top gainer compared to last year was dealing with illegal immigrants, which increased by 6 percentage points from last year. Also making gains from last year were strengthening the economy (up 4 percentage points), reducing the budget deficit (up 4 percentage points), and improving the job situation (up 3 percentage points). The biggest decreases were in defending against terrorism (down 7 percentage points) and strengthening the military (down 6 percentage points).
When broken down by party affiliation, the economy and jobs ranked first among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, while education ranked third among Democrats and Independents, but ninth among Republicans.
The complete results from the poll are available at http://people-press.org/report/696/ .