Pew: Deficit issues slip as voter priority in favor of economy and national security

posted at 6:41 pm on January 22, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

How many can remember anything from Barack Obama’s recent (and final) State of the Union address? Despite promising a “non-traditional” SOTU, Obama offered up the usual amalgam of laundry-list agenda items and self-promotion. Obama wanted to set the agenda for the next year, and in one paragraph early in the speech laid out that agenda clearly:

But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead. Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients. And I’ll keep pushing for progress on the work that still needs doing. Fixing a broken immigration system. Protecting our kids from gun violence. Equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage. All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done.

The latest research from Pew shows that Obama has the same grasp he’s always had on public priorities, which is to say … poor. In a survey taken in the seven days leading up to Obama’s address to the joint session of Congress, voters offered multiple answers on priorities in 2016 overwhelmingly put two Obama left off his 2016 laundry list — the economy and defense against terrorism. And those priorities he did cite are mostly at the bottom of the list for voters:

Strengthening the nation’s economy (75%) and defending the country from future terrorist attacks (75%) stand at the top of the public’s priority list for the president and Congress in 2016.

A tier below these top issues, about two-thirds call improving the educational system (66%) and improving the job situation (64%) top priorities for the country.

The public now ranks reducing the budget deficit (56% top priority) toward the middle of its list, alongside issues such as reducing crime (58%) and dealing with the problems of poor and needy people (54%).

Fewer than half say reforming the criminal justice system should be a top priority (44%). Even fewer cite dealing with global climate change (38%) or dealing with gun policy (37%) as top priorities for the country.

Among the issues listed by Obama, only education comes close to a top priority — and that’s a generous assessment, since most voters probably don’t think the top issue in education is teaching students to write computer code. Immigration barely gets a majority and comes in 11th on Pew’s list. Gun policy comes in seven ranks below that with only 37% citing it as a priority of any kind. Climate change, which got a significant mention later in Obama’s speech as he scolded Republican skeptics, edges out gun issues at 38% … in 17th place. Assuming that the equal-pay and minimum-wage issues can neatly fit into the “Poor and needy” issue area, it comes in a wan 10th.

This handy chart from Pew offers a good look at the aggregated priorities of the electorate:

pew-priorities

This kind of survey works better to demonstrate the passion on issue areas than other polling that asks respondents to just choose their most urgent issue. Even with multiple choice as an option, less than 4 in 10 Americans are concerned about the issues Obama wants to push in his legacy-building final year in office. Furthermore, Obama made it very clear that he wanted to frame the 2016 election for Democrats on these same issues.

If Democrats do take their lead, then Obama may end up making irrelevancy his enduring legacy. Rarely has a President sounded more out of touch with the electorate, and so self-congratulatory about it at the same time.


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Comments

They may slip in terms of voter attention – but that doesn’t mean that they are immaterial or non-existent.

There’s going to be a price, GOPe, to be paid, for that craven Omnibus 2015 deal.

Athos on January 22, 2016 at 6:45 PM

Well the deficit is down significantly over the last 5 years or so. So that makes sense. Still more work to do though.

proverbs427 on January 22, 2016 at 6:48 PM

Obama’s top issues are always at the bottom of Americans’ concerns.

He won’t do what the majority of Americans want done. He will go against the majority to do things, big things.

And yet he was reelected and even now his approval numbers are around 45-50% in the polls.

I’ll never figure it out.

Meremortal on January 22, 2016 at 6:51 PM

Pew: Deficit issues slip as voter priority in favor of economy and national security

This may have something to do with it:

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-isnt-anyone-talking-about-the-deficit-anymore/

Tlaloc on January 22, 2016 at 6:52 PM

Yeah, having a job and not getting blown up by terrorists are pretty important.

Unfortunately, regardless of what you’d like to see the government focus on, it takes money to get things done.

And the entire world is broke.

Magicjava on January 22, 2016 at 6:54 PM

There’s a deficit? You’d never know based on what’s in the news.

celt on January 22, 2016 at 7:03 PM

And yet he was reelected and even now his approval numbers are around 45-50% in the polls.

I’ll never figure it out.

Meremortal on January 22, 2016 at 6:51 PM

Almost as if you have been getting misleading information, huh?

Tlaloc on January 22, 2016 at 7:04 PM

and defending the country from future terrorist attacks (75%)

How about defending our overseas intelligence personnel from Hillary?

rbj on January 22, 2016 at 7:05 PM

5 years or so. So that makes sense. Still more work to do though.

proverbs427 on January 22, 2016 at 6:48 PM

Yes….keep a GOP Congress.

Dang …freak..you’re fun.

CWforFreedom on January 22, 2016 at 7:08 PM

Tialic…I heard that after you swallow YOU say “thank you”.

CWforFreedom on January 22, 2016 at 7:10 PM

Well the deficit is down significantly over the last 5 years or so. So that makes sense. Still more work to do though.

proverbs427 on January 22, 2016 at 6:48 PM

Wait until we are paying a realistic rate on the national debt. DaBOOM

rik on January 22, 2016 at 7:11 PM

50 percent disapprove…sorry Tialic.

CWforFreedom on January 22, 2016 at 7:12 PM

These polls are really dumb because many people don’t what a deficit is.

rik on January 22, 2016 at 7:12 PM

Proverbs don’t you need to go help someone kill their chilwen ?

CWforFreedom on January 22, 2016 at 7:13 PM

The debt will be 20 trillion when the boy king leaves office. Tell us more fauxverbs.

CWforFreedom on January 22, 2016 at 7:15 PM

CWforFreedom on January 22, 2016 at 7:15 PM

datracists

rik on January 22, 2016 at 7:17 PM

Now that the deficit is down to slightly above “the worst deficits ever!!!” circa 2007/8, it’s all wonderful for some of us.

Jeff Weimer on January 22, 2016 at 7:21 PM

Almost as if you have been getting misleading information, huh?

Tlaloc on January 22, 2016 at 7:04 PM

No. If you look at the bottom four items on the Pew list;

Criminal justice reform 44%

Climate change 38%

Gun policy 37%

Global trade 31%

You’re looking at the hard core of the liberal/progressive left, who like you only care about issues they can use to force changes in civilization which are ultimately detrimental to civilization.

They (and you) will vote for a candidate who promises action to free criminals, Save Holy Mother Gaia, kill and eat law-abiding citizens who own guns, and create a global version of the EU, no matter what.

Given another 8-10% of low-information voters and people who will go for a promise of Free Stuff At Everyone Else’s Expense, any candidate who can talk the language of the far left has a good chance of becoming President.

The problem is that the real world doesn’t feel constrained to obey leftist campaign rhetoric or doctrinal theory. Rather the lesson King Canute tried to teach his courtiers about royal authority;

“But surely, there must be some way that the tide can be made to obey you, Your Majesty!”

“Yes, it’s called ‘waiting for twelve hours’, you idiot.”

We have too many royal courtiers, and not nearly enough Canutes.

Just out of curiosity, what color is your robe, and where do you stand in the reviewing line?

clear ether

eon

eon on January 22, 2016 at 7:23 PM

eon on January 22, 2016 at 7:23 PM

Were you thinking of actually addressing something I said or was that just a single serving rant?

Tlaloc on January 22, 2016 at 7:33 PM

One of my lib sisters said her biggest worry is global warming. My other lib sister/teacher, in a crowded room said, you have got to be kidding me. The whole gathering busted out laughing. I didnt have to say a word. For a change.

scookam on January 22, 2016 at 7:42 PM

Security is key–economic security and national security.

I’m not surprised by Trump’s rise. He is addressing both.

will77jeff on January 22, 2016 at 8:30 PM

There’s a deficit? You’d never know based on what’s in the news.

celt on January 22, 2016 at 7:03 PM

…not to worry!…the media will ramp it up at the end of January…2917!

JugEarsButtHurt on January 22, 2016 at 8:58 PM

The so-called conservative party is nothing resembling conservative.

What happened to a commitment to budget deficit reduction? Evaporated in the election season. The TP was gathering steam four years ago and starting to pull some reins to rein in deficit spending. But public opinion is more concerned with the remote possibility that a terrorist might shoot one dead than with the certain possibility that we’re going to borrow our way into credit-unworthiness (at which point our yearly deficits will spiral completely out of control). More ink gets devoted to people getting their feelings hurt because someone referred to their race or religion or heritage in less-than-flattering terms than to the myriad of issues that really do threaten our future prosperity.
The biggest issue of all dwarfs all the others – climate change – not by virtue of its immediacy but rather by its potential for severity and permanence. Climate change from global warming will affect every one of the other issues in the list. But, the best way to keep one’s blood pressure down over that one is to simply ignore it or convince oneself that it doesn’t really exist at all.

oakland on January 22, 2016 at 9:12 PM

Well the deficit is down significantly over the last 5 years or so. So that makes sense. Still more work to do though.

proverbs427 on January 22, 2016 at 6:48 PM

Deficit “reduction” is one of the biggest lies of Obama and the Democrats.

FY 2007 Hastert/Frist/Bush GOP Deficit: 1.1% of GDP
FY 2009 Pelosi/Reid/Obama(*) DEM Deficit: 9.8% of GDP

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2016/assets/hist01z2.xls

The last budget passed by a Republican House, Republican Senate, and Republican President was passed in 2006 for Fiscal Year 2007.

The last all-GOP deficit (FY 2007) was
less than $161 Billion,
representing 1.1% of GDP.

Then Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and their Democrat peers including then-Senators Obama, Biden, Clinton, Kerry, etc. took majority control, and in just 2 years they increased the deficit to 9.8% of GDP!

ALL FY 2009 spending was passed by the Nancy Pelosi House and the Harry Reid Senate.

(*)The majority of FY 2009 spending was asked for and/or signed by Barack Obama, not George W. Bush! (links to follow in other comments)

It is extremely dishonest for Obama & the Democrats to blame all FY 2009 spending/deficit on 1 man who was in the minority party for a minority of the FY 2009 spending: George W. Bush.

I contend that Pelosi/Reid/Obama intentionally mushroomed the deficit from 1.1% to 9.8% of GDP, then blame that all on Bush and claim that deficits of around 3% of GDP are a significant “REDUCTION”, rather than a significant INCREASE.

It’s a huge deception.

Avg FY Deficits:
Post-WWII FY 1947-1995: 1.8% of GDP
GOP Majority FY 1996-2007: 0.8% of GDP
DEM Majority FY 2008-2014: 6.3% of GDP

What Pelosi, Reid, and then-Senator Obama inherited on 1/3/2007 when they took majority control was a below-average deficit of 1.1%

Today’s deficits are multiple times larger, not smaller, than what Obama & peers inherited.

ITguy on January 22, 2016 at 10:56 PM

You can blame Bush for not vetoing
this Nancy Pelosi / Senator Reid Continuing Resolution:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR02638:@@@R

But Obama requested: (part 1 of 2)

http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123177778175873781?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB123177778175873781.html

ITguy on January 22, 2016 at 11:02 PM

The majority of FY 2009 spending was asked for and/or signed by Barack Obama, not George W. Bush: (part 2 of 2)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Recovery_and_Reinvestment_Act_of_2009

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnibus_Appropriations_Act_of_2009

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supplemental_Appropriations_Act_of_2009

ITguy on January 22, 2016 at 11:03 PM

18 things in that list, and all of them have been major problems since the ’90s.

Yeah, we’re going to solve most or all of them when ___ gets elected this year, Buddy.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 23, 2016 at 12:16 AM

Wake up America. Another rubbish and meaningless poll. The American people need to stop changing their minds like a yo-yo. One day its this, and the next day its that. Righting the economy will be the major factor in improving all the areas including: our national defence/military, creating jobs, increasing tax receipts to balance the budget, and restructuring the bloated government in DC.

leader4hru on January 23, 2016 at 7:00 AM

And yet he was reelected and even now his approval numbers are around 45-50% in the polls.

I’ll never figure it out.

Meremortal on January 22, 2016 at 6:51 PM

Very simple. There are an awful lot of people who shouldn’t be voting.

Only extreme ignorance and greed for “free shit” gets people like Obama in office.

(Yes, I just called Obama voters greedy).

ConstantineXI on January 23, 2016 at 8:20 AM

Good news! Only 363 days until Obama is out of office.
290 days if one counts election day as the point that Obama is out.

albill on January 23, 2016 at 8:26 AM

I don’t believe there’s ever been a political party as out of touch with the country as the Democrats. Of course, it doesn’t help that the opposition party (that also happens to be the majority party) allows them to dictate the priorities. I don’t believe there’s ever been a President so ill-informed about the country and as isolated as this one. You’d think that someone who went to Columbia and Harvard would have a certain grasp of the Constitution, economics, and human relations. This President is lacking in every category and, as a consequence, the country will be a disaster when the new President and New Congress take over in January 2017.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the President and his political party have one priority and one only. It’s not a priority the country would want to see on any list and it’s not a priority anyone but a radical would put at the top of his list and that’s the implementation of the Cloward/Piven strategy. If you watch what this President wants to do, most of it is going to bankrupt the country, if implemented, which is what Cloward/Piven was designed to do.

bflat879 on January 23, 2016 at 8:35 AM

I looked over that list and didn’t see anything about sex change operations for those who self identify as other than the equipment they were born with. Have the dems stopped caring?
I’ll go with 363 days and won’t count him gone until the last suitcase has been lifted into the trunk of the limo.

Kissmygrits on January 23, 2016 at 9:03 AM

The folks won’t care until they start means testing social security.

Then the deficit will be a BIG concern.

But of course by that time it will be too late.

Younggod on January 23, 2016 at 10:10 AM