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Americans rank the economy as top priority for Obama and Congress

On the eve of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, Americans rate the nation’s economy as their top policy priority, according to the results from a Pew Research Center survey.

Eighty percent of Americans believe the economy should be a main area of focus for the president and Congress in 2014. Eighty-five percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of independents took this stance.

Budget deficit reduction dropped from 72 percent to 63 percent. It is now the sixth policy priority after being third in 2013. Eighty percent of Republicans said that the deficit should be a priority, compared to 66 percent of independents and only 49 percent of Democrats.

Elsewhere, interest in improvements to infrastructure like roads, bridges and public transport jumped nine percentage points, from 30 percent to 39 percent.

Eighty-one percent of Republicans ranked terrorism defense as the top priority, versus 14 percent of Republicans who ranked global warming as the top. Eighty-five percent of Democrats and 81 percent of independents ranked the economy as the top priority, versus 27 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of independents who placed global trade as the first priority.

The largest partisan gap was on environmental protection. Fewer than three in 10 Republicans ranked the environment as a top policy priority (28 percent), but more than twice as many Democrats did (65 percent). Independents were basically split on the issue at 48 percent.

The economy, the job situation and terrorism ranked in the top five for all three groups.

The Pew Research Center has more details, including updated popularity rankings for President Obama. What do you think the government’s top priorities should be for the upcoming year? After the president delivers his address to the nation tomorrow night, tell us what you thought about the speech in a video response. Your take might be broadcast as part of Wednesday night’s edition of the PBS NewsHour.

H/T Zachary Treu

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