Deficits And Entitlements Rival The Economy As The Public's Biggest Concerns

December 05, 2012, 3:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 12/1/2012) The economy has been the public’s number-one concern for years. While it remains in first place in this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll, a combination of issues that are part of the fiscal cliff discussion combine to rival the economy in public focus.

Over 40% of Americans choose the subjects at the heart of the debate over the fiscal cliff—the budget deficit itself, health care, Social Security, Medicare, and taxes— as their most important issue; 36% in three pick the economy. Democrats are more likely to cite Social Security and health care, while Republicans are more likely to choose the deficit. Nearly a third of seniors worry most about the programs that specifically benefit them — Social Security and Medicare.

The economy has been improving, though Americans remain more negative than positive: 34% continue to say the economy is getting worse; 27% say it is improving. In the weeks leading up to the election, those percentages were modestly better; last week they were modestly worse.