Who, Me Worried?

According to 13 issues Gallup measured in a March poll, summarized by Lydia Saad, 71% of Americans say they worry about the economy "a great deal," more than worry about 13 other issues. 64% worry a great deal about federal spending and the budget deficit. Race relations is the only issue about which the majority of Americans is "only a little" or "not at all" concerned.

Americans' Concerns (% of respondents; Fourteen National Issues)

 

Degree of Concern

Issue

Great Deal

Fair Amount

A Little/ None

Economy

71%

22%

7%

Federal spending and budget deficit

64

23

12

Availability and affordability of healthcare

58

25

17

Unemployment

57

27

15

Social Security system

51

26

22

Size & power of federal government

48

24

28

Availability & affordability of energy

46

33

21

Crime and violence

44

30

25

Illegal immigration

42

23

34

Hunger and homelessness

41

34

26

Future terrorist attacks in US

40

29

31

Drug use

40

24

35

Quality of the environment

34

34

31

Race relations

16

28

54

Source: Gallup, March 201

 Gallup has tracked 10 of the 14 items measured this year every year since 2001, except for 2009. Federal spending/the deficit as well as the size and power of the federal government, both hallmark concerns of the national Tea Party movement, are new to the list this year. The "possibility of future terrorist attacks" was added to the list in 2002 and Social Security in 2005.

The availability and affordability of energy is the only issue about which Americans have grown significantly more worried since last year, from 38% to 46%. The current level of concern about this is similar to what it was from 2006 to 2008.

Energy Availability and Affordability Concern (% of Respondents Saying "A Great Deal")

Year

% Who Worry ("A Great Deal)

2001

46%

2001

32

2003

27

2004

35

2005

39

2006

48

2007

43

2008

47

2009

n/a

2010

38

2011

46

Source: Gallup, March 2011

The economy and unemployment are top-ranking concerns for Republicans, independents, and Democrats. Additionally, majorities of Republicans and Democrats are highly worried about Social Security.

Beyond these areas of common concern, however, the parties diverge. Large majorities of Republicans say they worry a great deal about federal spending and the size and power of government, and more than half worry a great deal about immigration. All of these issues are absent from Democrats' top concerns. In contrast, Democrats' top-ranking issue, healthcare,  is not a great concern to most Republicans.

Among the four issues of concern to a majority of independents, the economy and unemployment are issues they have in common with both major parties, while federal spending is primarily a Republican concern and healthcare, a Democratic one.

Top Concerns By Party Affiliation (At least  50% Worried "A Great Deal")

 

Republicans

Independents

Democrats

Rank

Issue

Worried

Issue

Worried

Issue

Worried

1

Federal spending

79%

Economy

72%

Healthcare

69%

2

Economy

76

Federal spending

65

Economy

64

3

Size/power of government

62

Healthcare

58

Unemployment

60

4

Unemployment

58

Unemployment

55

Social Security

53

5

Illegal immigration

55

 

6

Social Security

52

Source: Gallup, March, 2011

 Of note,says the report, women are significantly more likely than men to be worried about healthcare, hunger/homelessness, Social Security, crime, unemployment, the environment, and drug use.

Young adults aged 18 to 34 are significantly less likely than older Americans to be concerned about Social Security and the size and power of the federal government. Young adults are significantly more likely to be concerned about the quality of the environment.

Americans' economic anxiety has not abated over the past year, as 7 in 10 Americans continue to tell Gallup they personally worry a great deal about the economy. This has ranked as Americans' top concern on this measure since 2008. Healthcare led the list from 2002 through 2007 and remains among the top five today.

This year's additions reveal that federal spending and the budget deficit worry Americans nearly as much as the economy. The interesting distinction is that all three party groups worry about the economy, while the deficit concerns far more Republicans and independents than Democrats.

Special note: This year's survey was conducted before a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Japan on March 11, launching a series of events that has sparked a nuclear crisis in that country and has raised Americans' concerns about the safety of nuclear power, says Gallup

For more about Gallup measurements and this study, please visit here.

 

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