Presidential polls: Americans say President Barack Obama should focus on economy

Just over a week after President Barack Obama won a second term in the White House, a new poll indicates Americans think he should get to work rebuilding a strong economy.

Ninety-five percent of respondents in a USA Today/Gallup national survey said fixing the economy is very or extremely important, and over three-quarters said Obama should focus on ensuring the long-term stability of Social Security and Medicare as well as prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Seventy-three percent of respondents placed significant importance on reducing the country's dependence on oil, gas and coal as well as making education more affordable, while 70% and above said Obama should focus on making cuts in federal spending and simplifying the tax code.

While Republicans and Democrats agree the economy should be Obama's number one priority, one of the more divisive topics is raising taxes on the wealthy, an issue at the forefront of the debate on how to balance the nation's budget to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

Democrats and Republicans differ in their approach to balancing the budget to stop a number of automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases set to take place at the beginning of next year if Congress and Obama fail to reach a budget deal. Democrats generally advocate for increasing the tax rate on wealthy Americans while Republicans push for limiting deductions and closing loopholes in tax code in order to raise revenue.

Another topic with divided importance is climate change, an issue rarely discussed in the 2012 presidential campaign and by the Obama administration in his first term.

While a majority of Democrats place heavy importance on raising taxes on the rich and addressing climate change, only 20% of Republicans and less than half of independents agree.

Only 29% said making cuts to military and defense spending was important and 37% said providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants living in the U.S. was important.

The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted from November 9-12 among a random sample of 1,009 adults. The poll's sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.


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