As Barack Obama takes office, the public's focus is overwhelmingly on domestic policy concerns – particularly the economy. Strengthening the nation's economy and improving the job situation stand at the top of the public's list of domestic priorities for 2009. Meanwhile, the priority placed on issues such as the environment, crime, illegal immigration and even reducing health care costs has fallen off from a year ago.
While it is not unusual for the public to prioritize domestic over foreign policy, the balance of opinion today is particularly one-sided. Roughly seven-in-ten Americans (71%) say that President Obama should focus on domestic policy, while just 11% prioritize foreign policy. By comparison, last January, 56% cited domestic policy as most important while 31% said Bush should focus on foreign policy.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 7-11 among 1,503 adults on cell phones and landlines, finds that strengthening the economy and improving the job situation are higher priorities today than they have been at any point over the past decade, and the recent upward trend has been steep. The share of Americans saying that strengthening the nation's economy should be a top priority has risen from 68% two years ago to 75% last January to 85% today. Concern about jobs has risen even more sharply. The 82% who rate improving the job situation as a top priority represents a 21-point jump from 61% a year ago.
Read the full report Economy, Jobs Trump All Other Policy Priorities In 2009 on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.