As Barack Obama begins his second year in office, the public's priorities for the president and Congress remain much as they were one year ago. Strengthening the nation's economy and improving the job situation continue to top the list. And, in the wake of the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, defending the country from future terrorist attacks also remains a top priority.
At the same time, the public has shifted the emphasis it assigns to two major policy issues: dealing with the nation's energy problem and reducing the budget deficit. About half (49%) say that dealing with the nation's energy problem should be a top priority, down from 60% a year ago. At the same time, there has been a modest rise in the percentage saying that reducing the budget deficit should be a top priority, from 53% to 60%.
Other policy priorities show little change from a year ago. For example, despite the ongoing debate over health care reform, about as many now call reducing health care costs a top priority (57%) as did so in early 2009 (59%). In fact, the percentage rating health care costs a top priority is lower now than it was in both 2008 (69%) and 2007 (68%).
In addition, the percentage placing top priority on providing health insurance to the uninsured stands at 49%. That is little changed from a year ago and off its high of 61% in January 2001. Notably, there is now a wider partisan gap in opinion about this issue than for any of the other 20 issues in the survey: fully 75% of Democrats rate providing health insurance to the uninsured as a top priority compared with just 26% of Republicans.
Read the full report Public's Priorities for 2010: Economy, Jobs, Terrorism on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.