Deficit reduction had surged as a policy priority during Obama’s first term: Between 2009 and 2013, the share citing the deficit as a top priority rose 19 points. In the current survey, majorities of Republicans (80%) and independents (66%) continue to say reducing the budget deficit should be a top priority for the president and Congress. However, just 49% of Democrats view this as a top priority, the lowest percentage since Obama took office. A year ago, 67% of Democrats rated cutting the deficit as a top policy goal.
Since 2012, more Republicans than Democrats have rated deficit reduction as a top priority; through much of George W. Bush’s presidency the partisan gap over the deficit was reversed. But going back 20 years, the gap has never been as large as it is today.