Poll: Terrorism Trumps Budget Deficit As Top Public Priority

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Americans rank terrorism and improving the economy as more pressing than reducing the budget deficit, according to a poll released by Pew Research Center Friday.

Keeping the country safe from future attacks and economic issues tied at 75 percent as the top public priorities for 2016.

The results contrast with the start of President Barack Obama’s second term, where 71 percent named lowering the deficit as the biggest problem while 72 percent of those surveyed said terrorism was their biggest concern.
Budget deficit slips as public priority

The percent of Americans listing terrorism as the biggest issue has shot up during Obama’s second term by 6 percent in 2012 – but still remains below its highest number, 83 percent, in 2002, following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
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Republicans were far more likely than Democrats to prioritize homeland security.

“For Republicans, defending the country from future terrorist attacks ranks highest, with 87 percent calling this a top priority. Strengthening the economy (80 percent) and military (76 percent) rank second and third, respectively. Seven-in-10 Republicans (70 percent) say reducing the budget deficit should be a top priority, while 67 percent say the same for taking steps to make the Social Security system financially sound and 66 percent say this about dealing with the issue of immigration,” the survey reads.

Democrats listed education (76 percent) and the economy (74 percent) ahead of protecting the nation from future acts of terror (73 percent).
Terrorism, economy highly rated across the partisan spectrum

According to Pew, the divide between political parties on strengthening the military has increased significantly between the Bush and Obama administrations.

“In January 2014, 61 percent of Republicans said strengthening the military should be a top priority compared with 36 percent of Democrats – a 25-point gap in opinion,” the polling company said. “Since 2014, Republicans have become 15 points more likely to prioritize strengthening the military. Views among Democrats edged higher in 2015, but have fallen back to about where they were in 2014 (36 percent said it was top priority in 2014, compared with 33 percent in the current survey).”

Growing partisan divide in views of importance of strengthening military

Those that self-identify as leaning toward the right are now 43 percent more likely than those on the left to say a stronger military should be a top issues this year.

The survey found Republicans see Obama’s time in office as much more of failure than the Clinton administration at 88 and 51 percent respectively.

Pew Research Center conducted the national poll from Jan. 7-14 among 2,009 adults.

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