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The Pulse Of The Nation - Americans' Top Priorities And Direction Of The Country

70% are dissatisfied with the country’s direction.

  • 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 we enter the fourth quarter of 2023?

Forty-nine percent of Americans picked the economy as the country's most important issue, followed by immigration/border security at 35 percent and gun violence/gun control at 23 percent as the other top concerns.

These results are from the latest IBD/TIPP Poll, which surveyed 1,378 Americans and was completed in late September. The poll asked participants, "What are the top three issues facing the country?"

Besides economy, border security and gun control, one in five respondents (22%) rated crime as a top issue.

Eight other issues received double-digit importance. Trust in government/politicians (19%), climate change (18%), health care (18%), homelessness (17%), and lack of unity/division in the country (16%) garnered more than 15 percent importance.

Home affordability (15%), the Russia/Ukraine situation and global security (11%), and abortion (11%) were three other issues that scored above 10 percent.

Investigation of the Trump administration ranked last with 6%, sharing the bottom three positions with Coronavirus (6%) and China-U.S. relations (6%).

Only 25% of Americans approve of President Biden's handling of the economy
Over 2.8 million migrants encountered authorities in FY 2023, up from 2.7 million in FY 2022

Priorities varied along party and ideological lines.

For Democrats, the top issues were the economy (38%), gun violence/gun control (36%), climate change (29%), health care (21%), homelessness (18%), and immigration, border security(17%).

Republicans, on the other hand, prioritized immigration, border security (61%), the economy (59%), crime (26%), trust in government/politicians (25%), lack of unity/division in the country (16%), and health care (14%).

Independents aligned more closely with Republicans, with their top issues being the economy (51%), immigration/border security (30%), crime (25%), gun violence/gun control (23%), trust in government/politicians (22%), and health care (20%).

Top Economic Issues

Inflation (47%), food prices (42%), and gasoline prices (30%) are the top three economic issues facing Americans.

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

People’s ability to pay their bills (21%), government spending (20%), home affordability (18%), recession (17%), government shutdown (16%), rising interest rates (15%), and tax rates (12%) received double-digit responses.

Direction Of Country

Each month, IBD/TIPP Poll probes the general sentiment​ about 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?"

Nearly two-thirds (70%) are dissatisfied with the country’s direction. 41% said they are not at all satisfied,and 29% are not very satisfied. Most Republicans (87%) and independents (75%) expressed dissatisfaction. One-half (50%) of Democrats are satisfied.

We also compute a compact index from responses to the question. The index ranges from 0 to 100. An index 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 26 months. The October reading is 31.6.

Democrats have the most optimistic reading, at 51.8. Republicans have the lowest score (15.7), indicating extreme pessimism. Independents are in the middle at 25.8.

Democrats fell 25.4 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 35 months in a row, with a median of 21.4 during Biden's presidency.

Independents’ median during Biden's presidency is 31.5.

The nation faces a protracted stagflation, an economic slowdown accompanied by inflation. Faced with high food prices and near-stagnant income, households are forced to tighten their budgets. Americans’ economic confidence recently plummeted sharply. Uncontrolled immigration and rising crime rates are making matters worse. With poll numbers falling even among Democrats, it is clear that the nation's leadership has their work cut out for them.

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