January 27, 2012

Deficit Rises as a Priority, Terrorism Slips

69%

While an equal number of Americans (69%) list the federal budget deficit and terrorism as top priorities for President Obama and Congress in 2012, the deficit has risen in importance and terrorism has fallen since 2007.

The federal budget deficit stands out as the fastest growing policy priority for Americans, largely because of a big increase in the number of Republicans expressing concern about the issue, according to the Pew Research Center’s annual public priority poll, conducted Jan. 11-16. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) Americans view reducing the budget deficit as a top priority – an increase of 16 points since 2007 and the highest this figure has been since 1994.

The number of Republicans who view the budget deficit as a top priority has spiked to 84% from 68% a year ago; it was just 42% five years ago.

Fighting terrorism is viewed as a top policy priority by 69% of people surveyed. However, that figure is down 11 points since 2006, in part because Republicans are placing far less emphasis on terrorism. Currently, 72% of Republicans view terrorism as a top priority, down from 83% a year ago and 93% five years ago. The prioritization of fighting terrorism has seen less change among Democrats and independents. Read More