The recently released Associated Press-NORC poll offers a revealing glimpse into the public’s primary concerns and priorities for the upcoming year. As expected, the economy continues to reign supreme as the top focus for government attention in 2024, with three out of four respondents highlighting it as a vital issue. However, the poll also unveils an ascendant worry about immigration and foreign affairs, indicating a marked increase in their significance compared to previous years.
Significantly, the survey signals a noteworthy shift in public sentiment regarding foreign policy. Against the backdrop of ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, foreign policy has surged in importance, particularly when juxtaposed with earlier years. Moreover, the looming specter of potential government shutdowns in 2023 has amplified concerns about the debt limit and government spending, solidifying their status as key priorities for 2024.
The divide between Democrats and Republicans on issues like immigration, foreign policy, and inflation is stark. While both parties acknowledge these concerns, their top-five priority lists diverge significantly. Democrats express heightened concerns about climate change, the environment, education, and healthcare reform. In contrast, Republicans prioritize the broader economy and government debt among their top concerns.
Despite this broad range of concerns, the public’s confidence in the federal government’s ability to address these issues remains alarmingly low. A staggering 71% lack confidence in the government’s capacity to make meaningful progress on crucial national concerns in 2024, underscoring a pervasive skepticism about the government’s efficacy in addressing pressing issues.
The noteworthy shift in attitudes toward foreign policy within the Democratic Party might raise eyebrows. There appears to be a considerable increase in Republicans prioritizing foreign policy, potentially attributed to ongoing global conflicts and the current administration’s allocation of substantial funds, approximately $100 billion, toward bolstering Israel and Ukraine’s defense against aggression. This shift might suggest a hesitancy or waning emphasis among Democrats on foreign policy matters.
Regarding immigration, the poll indicates a substantial uptick in concern among both Republicans and Democrats compared to the previous year. Notably, while the border situation continues to worsen, particularly in areas like San Diego adjacent to Tijuana, Mexico, there’s a glaring disparity in the perception of the severity of the situation between politicians and everyday citizens.
The poll highlights a disconnect between public sentiment and political rhetoric. Despite the Biden administration’s significant financial allocation, approximately half a trillion dollars, toward addressing climate change, only a fraction of the population, around 21%, consider it a top priority for government intervention, revealing a significant divergence between policy priorities and public perception.