These Are Americans’ Biggest Concerns For 2016

January 24, 2016, 8:59 PM UTC
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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 04: A person walks past the U.S. Capitol building on the morning of January 4, 2011 in Washington, DC. The new 112th Congress is due to be sworn in on Wednesday January 5, with the House being lead by House Speaker elect John Boehner (R-OH). President Barack Obama's Healthcare reforms are expected to be a target for the Republicans, who now dominate the new House of Representatives with Democrats maintaining a small majority in the Senate. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Photograph by Mark Wilson — Getty Images

Terrorism, health care, and immigration top the list of concerns that Americans want government to address, a new poll found—and a majority have little to no confidence that the U.S. can actually do anything about them.

The Associated Press and NORC (National Opinion Research Center) asked Americans to cite up to five issues they think the government should address this year, and their confidence in government’s ability to resolve them. The most commonly mentioned were terrorism, health care, immigration, education, and unemployment; others included guns, race relations, and national security.

But a whopping 61% of those polled have little to no confidence in the government’s ability to resolve any of these issues; 30% are moderately confident. Just 8% are very or extremely confident, and the remaining 1% either don’t know or refused to answer.

The poll found Republicans and Democrats agree that unemployment and health care should be two of our top priorities, but the two parties tend to disagree on other issues. Republicans were more likely to mention a foreign policy issue as one of the country’s biggest concerns, while Democrats appeared to be more concerned with domestic issues.

Over two-thirds of poll-takers identified at least one economic issue as one of their top priorities. Unemployment, which was named by both parties equally, was the top concern with 24%. Aside from that, the two parties disagreed on which economy-related issues were most important. Poverty, mentioned by 13%, was a bigger concern among Democrats, while taxes and the budget deficit, which were mentioned by 13% and 12% of those surveyed respectively, were more highly prioritized by Republicans.

Nearly a third of people identified health care as a top domestic issue, followed by education (25%), climate change (18%), and guns (15%). Other domestic issues, identified by less than 10%, included income inequality, race relations, policing matters, welfare reform, and social security. About 80% of all those polled named at least one domestic issue as a top priority.

Terrorism was the most commonly mentioned foreign policy issue with 34%, and immigration followed as a close second with 29%. National security was a priority for 9% of people, and war was a priority for 6%.


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