Economy or Deficit: What Should the President’s Top Priority Be?

If you are like the majority of American voters surveyed in a Quinnipiac University national poll, then you want President Barack Obama to focus on either the economy or the federal deficit in his State of the Union address, scheduled for Tuesday evening.

The separate but related issues top the priority list for 55 percent of respondents — 35 percent for the economy at large and 20 percent for the deficit in particular. Rounding out the top five are gun policy at 15 percent, healthcare at 12 percent (although, a huge part of the healthcare debate is tied up in economics), and foreign policy at just 5 percent.

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Here’s a breakdown of the results respondents gave when answering what they were most interested in hearing about in the State of the Union Address. All figures are in percents with a margin of error of +/-2.3 percentage points.

Total Republican Democrat Independent
Economy 35 32 38 21
Federal Deficit 20 30 12 21
Health Care 12 10 16 8
Gun Policy 15 12 18 14
Foreign Policy 5 4 4 8
Immigration 4 3 6 4
Environment 3 4 4
Don’t Know 6 8 3 6

Right off the bat, the results provide support for the idea that Democrats and Republicans are thinking about the deficit in a fundamentally different way…