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America’s Priorities As We Bid Farewell To 2023

Priorities differ based on party and ideological affiliations.

Photo by Robert Linder / Unsplash
  • Nearly one in two Americans prioritizes the economy as the country's most important issue
  • Immigration/border security and gun violence/control are the other top concerns
  • Over two-thirds express dissatisfaction with the direction of the country

What are Americans' priorities as 2023 ends and we welcome 2024?

Four in ten (41%) Americans picked the economy as the country's most important issue, followed by immigration/border security at 29 percent and gun violence/gun control at 23 percent as the other top concerns.

These results are from the latest TIPP Poll, which surveyed 1,464 Americans and was completed in early December. The poll asked participants, "What are the top three issues facing the country?"

Besides economy, border security, and gun control, one in five respondents (21%) rated crime as an issue of concern.

Ten other issues received double-digit importance. Trust in government/politicians (19%), homelessness (19%), climate change (17%), health care (17%), and lack of unity/division in the country (15%) concerned close to a fifth.

Home affordability (12%), mental health (12%), Israel-Hamas conflict (12%), terrorism/national security (11%), and election 2024 (10%) were five other issues that scored 10 percent or more.

Coronavirus ranked last with 4%, sharing the bottom three positions with China-U.S. relations (6%) and racial justice (7%).

Only 24% of Americans approve of President Biden's handling of the economy
Only 18% of Americans approve of President Biden's handling of immigration.

Priorities varied along party and ideological lines.

For Democrats, the top issues were gun violence/gun control (36%), the economy (30%), climate change (29%), health care (17%), homelessness (17%), lack of unity/division in the country (17%), and trust in government/politicians (15%). Immigration was rated important by only 13%.

Republicans, on the other hand, prioritized immigration and border security (49%), the economy (46%), crime (28%), trust in government/politicians (22%), homelessness (16%), and health care (15%).

Independents aligned more closely with Republicans, with their top concerns being the economy (47%), immigration/border security (26%), homelessness (23%), trust in government/politicians (21%), gun violence/gun control (20%), healthcare (19%), and crime (18%). Climate change was rated important by only 14%.

Top Economic Issues

Inflation (50%), food prices (42%), and people’s ability to pay their bills (25%) are the top three economic issues facing Americans.

From a list of 21 economy-related issues, the survey respondents picked their top three concerns.

Home affordability (22%), gasoline prices (21%), government spending (19%), recession (18%), rising interest rates (16%), and tax rates (12%) received double-digit responses.

Direction Of Country

Each month, the TIPP Poll probes the general sentiment​ regarding the country’s direction using the survey question, "In general, how satisfied are you with the direction that the country is going in at this time?"

Over two-thirds (67%) are dissatisfied with where the country is headed. 37% said they are not at all satisfied, and 30% are not very satisfied. Most Republicans (83%) and independents (75%) expressed dissatisfaction. Nearly one-half (49%) of Democrats are satisfied.

We also compute a compact index from responses to the question. The index ranges from 0 to 100. A score of 50 or above is positive, below 50 is negative, and 50 is neutral.

Overall, the index entered the negative zone in September 2021 and has remained there for 28 months. The December reading is 33.5.

Democrats have the most optimistic reading, at 51.8. Republicans have the lowest score (19.5), indicating extreme pessimism. Independents are in the middle at 28.0.

Democrats fell 25.5 points from a high of 77.3 in April 2021 to 51.8 this month, a 33% drop.

Republicans' slide began after the elections in November 2020, and they have been posting pessimistic readings (under 50) for 37 months in a row, with a median of 20.2 during Biden's presidency.

Independents’ median during Biden's presidency is 31.4.

The nation faces an entrenched core inflation and an economic slowdown. With high food prices and near-stagnant income, households are forced to tighten their budgets. Americans’ economic confidence recently declined sharply. Uncontrolled immigration and rising crime rates are making matters worse. Americans’ frustrations make President Biden’s second term look more unlikely than likely as we end 2023.