Americans Still Consider the Economy As Top Policy Priority

With concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic again fading, the American public has once again placed strengthening the economy as the top policy priority President Joe Biden and Congress should address in 2023. According to the Pew Research Center, there is an increased focus on deficit reduction especially among Republican voters and those who lean Republican. Democrats also place cutting the deficit high on their priority list but by a smaller percentage. Only 21 percent of respondents view the country’s economic conditions as excellent or good, a slight increase from the fall. This survey of 5,152 U.S. adults was conducted January 18-24, 2023.

In order of importance, other priorities identified by the study include reducing health care costs, defending against terrorism, reducing influence of money in politics, making Medicare financially sound, reducing budget deficit, reducing crime, improving education, reducing availability of illegal drugs, dealing with immigration, improving energy system, improving job situation, dealing with the problems of poor people, protecting the environment, improving transportation, strengthening military, dealing with climate change, dealing with global trade, addressing issues around race, dealing with challenges facing parents, and dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. 

While there are “sizable differences” in the shares of Americans who rate each of the 21 items included in the survey as a “top priority” for Biden and Congress, in most cases large majorities rate each one as either a top priority or as an “important but lower priority.” At most, about 10 percent of respondents said that a handful of policies should not be done including 11 percent who say this about dealing with climate change and 9 percent for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. 

Strengthening the economy has long been among the public’s top policy priorities, Pew reports. Fewer Americans now believe that improving the job situation should be a top priority. Yet, reducing crime and improving education has moved up among priorities, especially by Republicans. Democrats or citizens who lean Democrat are more focused on defending against terrorism, reducing money’s influence in politics and shoring up Medicare. 

The largest gaps between Democrats and Republicans are on protecting the environment and dealing with global climate change. Democrats are also much more likely to prioritize issues around race. Republicans are more focused on addressing immigration and increasing military strength. Black Americans rank building the economy as their first priority followed by addressing problems associated with poverty. Hispanic Democrats are more interested in dealing with immigration.    

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