The federal budget deficit stands out as the fastest growing policy priority for Americans, largely because of a big increase in the number of Republicans expressing concern about the issue, according to the Pew Research Center’s annual public priority poll, conducted Jan. 11-16. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) Americans view reducing the budget deficit as a top priority – an increase of 16 points since 2007 and the highest this figure has been since 1994.

The number of Republicans who view the budget deficit as a top priority has spiked to 84% from 68% a year ago; it was just 42% five years ago.

Fighting terrorism is viewed as a top policy priority by 69% of people surveyed. However, that figure is down 11 points since 2006, in part because Republicans are placing far less emphasis on terrorism. Currently, 72% of Republicans view terrorism as a top priority, down from 83% a year ago and 93% five years ago. The prioritization of fighting terrorism has seen less change among Democrats and independents. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.