Between January 7-9, 2003, Ipsos-Reid US Public Affairs interviewed for Cook Political Report a representative sample of 1,000 adults nationwide. Half were asked to volunteer the most important problem facing the country, the other half the biggest problems and challenges facing their family. The margin of error for each half sample of 500 adults is +/- 4.5%.
As President George W. Bush prepares his State of the Union address for Tuesday, January 28, 2003, two open-ended questions in the poll offer insights into what’s on people’s minds regarding problems facing the country and the challenges facing them personally.
- Terrorism (31% mention it as one of the most important problems facing the country) is less of an issue than at any time in a year, but war and unrest in general (18%) and specifically war with Iraq (8%) are mentioned nearly as often as terrorism.
- Economic issues in general (mentioned by a net 68% all adults, with 51% mentioning “the economy” in general as a top issue and 19% mentioning unemployment) are rapidly growing in importance in the public’s mind. Corporate malfeasance, a hot topic last July, has melted away as an issue.
- Other domestic issues (69%) persist, especially education (22%) and health care coverage (27%). On a personal basis, health issues (33%), especially health care concerns, are second only to worries about the cost of living.
- Regarding personal challenges and problems, the cost of living (62%) is the top concern, with general financial problems (31%) soaring in importance. Employment concerns (17%) continue to challenge people, although the content of those concerns is shifting from unemployment worries to other employment concerns. Also persistent are worries about raising children (17%), especially education concerns.
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