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2019: The Public's Priorities and Expectations

A national survey of 1,067 adults conducted in December 2018 explores the problems Americans would like to see the federal government confront in 2019.  Over the past year, immigration has risen to the top of the public’s agenda, equal to health care.

​Americans’ policy priorities for this year are dominated by health care and immigration. Over the past year, immigration has risen to the top of the public’s agenda, equal to health care. Despite the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in November, Republicans continue to be more positive about the state of the country and where it’s heading than Democrats.

In a recent poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Americans offer a long and diverse catalog of problems for the government to address in 2019. In order to explore the public’s agenda for the next year, the poll accepted up to five volunteered issues from each respondent.

An increasing number of Americans mention immigration as one of their top five concerns. In the wake of the year’s headlines about the border wall, the separation of children, and efforts to overhaul immigration, 49 percent mentioned an immigration issue, up from 27 percent last year. Although immigration is overwhelmingly the top issue for Republicans, the number of Democrats and independents that mention immigration increased significantly as well. The survey was completed before the federal government shutdown over funding for the border wall.

There are substantial partisan differences on several high-profile problems, including the importance of the environment, the economy, and education, but overall the public has little confidence that progress will be made in fixing any of these problems.

In addition to differences on what problems should be addressed in the coming year, Republicans and Democrats have conflicting opinions about how things are going in the United States, the condition of the national economy, and where the country is headed.

The nationwide poll was conducted December 13-16, 2018, using the AmeriSpeak Panel®, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,067 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.