Healthcare edges out crime, guns and deficit as top problem
Healthcare or economy has typically been top worry since 2001
Worries about unemployment, economy continue to decline
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Fifty-five percent of Americans worry "a great
deal" about the availability and affordability of healthcare, topping
concerns about 14 other issues Gallup tested. Slim majorities also worry
about crime and violence, federal spending and the budget deficit, and
the availability of guns. Unemployment and affordable energy rank last.
Americans Worry More About Healthcare Than Other Issues
Next, I'm going to read a list of problems facing the country. For
each one, please tell me if you personally worry about this problem a
great deal, a fair amount, only a little or not at all.
A great deal
A fair amount
Only a little/Not at all
The availability and affordability of healthcare
Crime and violence
Federal spending and the budget deficit
The availability of guns
Hunger and homelessness
The Social Security system
The quality of the environment
The size and power of the federal government
The possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S.
The availability and affordability of energy
Gallup, March 1-8, 2018
This year marks the fifth year in a row, and 13th overall, that healthcare has either been first or tied for first among
the issues. The economy has topped the list eight times, including every
year from 2008 through 2016 (this question was not asked in 2009). Crime
(in 2001 and 2016), terrorism (in 2015) and the budget deficit (in 2014)
are the only issues besides healthcare and the economy that have held,
or tied for, the top spot.
Most often, race relations has been the issue Americans worry least about.
However, that has not been the case in recent years, as
concerns about the issue spiked after several highly publicized cases of deadly confrontations between
police and young black males.
Affordable energy and unemployment have been the issues Americans worry
least about for the past two years, given low gas prices and low unemployment
rates. Unemployment also tied for last in 2001. Immigration and climate
change have also each finished last once.
Majorities Have Consistently Worried About Healthcare
A majority of Americans have worried a great deal about healthcare each
time Gallup has asked about it since 2001. It is the only issue of the
11 Gallup has measured consistently to maintain this level of worry.
Democrats have typically worried more than Republicans about the issue,
including a 72% to 39% difference this year. However, the party groups
were about equally likely to worry about it between 2014 and 2016, after
major provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect.
Of the three other issues to register 50% or higher worry this year, federal
spending and the budget deficit is the one that has most often been a
higher-level concern. First asked in 2011, the item has been above 50%
worry five of the six times it was asked, except in 2017.
Americans' worry about crime and violence has been above 50% two other
times, in 2001 and in 2016 -- years when it tied as the top issue overall.
Gallup asked about the availability of guns for the first time this year
given the prominence of the issue since the Parkland, Florida, school
shooting in mid-February.
Worries About Economy, Unemployment Reach New Lows
Levels of concern about most of the issues are similar to what they were
a year ago, except for the economy and unemployment. Americans' concerns
about those issues continue to decline from their high points after the
Great Recession. The percentage of Americans now worried about unemployment
is down 36 percentage points from the high of 59% in 2010, including a
seven-point decline in the past year. Worry about the economy has dropped
37 points from its high of 71% in 2011 and 2012, with about one-third
of that decline coming in the past year.
As a result, the percentages worried about these two economic matters are
the lowest Gallup has measured since 2001.
Healthcare has been a common concern for Americans, with the percentage
worrying a great deal about it eclipsing most other issues over the past
two decades. Passage of the Affordable Care Act did little to ease anxiety
about the issue -- and with President Donald Trump and the Republican
Congress taking steps to undo key provisions of the law, Americans'
anxiety about the healthcare situation should persist.
Congress is unlikely to consider major legislation this election year beyond
the bills it needs to keep the government running. Consequently, healthcare
and other matters that Americans worry about -- such as federal spending
and the deficit, crime, and the availability of guns -- promise to remain
key issues. Democrats' especially high concern about healthcare could
make it a mobilizing issue for the party as it seeks to win control of
Congress this fall.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted
March 1-8, 2018, with a random sample of 1,041 adults, aged 18 and older,
living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results
based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error
is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone
respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas
by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are
selected using random-digit-dial methods.