Jobs and the economy top the issues Americans and Connecticut residents alike want President Barack Obama to focus on in his State of the Union Address today, according to a new University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant poll.
The survey found that 44 percent of Americans say the economy and jobs are the most important issues for the president to focus on in the first address to Congress of his second term, followed by 16 percent saying the federal budget is tops in importance.
Nearly 50 percent of Connecticut residents, meanwhile, say employment and economic issues should top the President’s agenda in his first annual address to Congress since winning a second term in the White House.
Smaller percentages of Americans said gun control, health care, or immigration are their top issue, but none of those categories reached double digits in support.
“It’s no surprise that with the sluggish pace of the recovery, economic issues are still the most important thing on most people’s minds,” said UConn Poll Director Jennifer Necci Dineen, a faculty member in the Department of Public Policy. “No other issue comes close.”
The main difference between Connecticut and the rest of the country appears to be the issue of gun control, which has been near the top of the public agenda in the Nutmeg State since the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook School shooting.
The survey found that 14 percent of state residents say guns should be the main issue in the speech, compared to 8 percent nationally. An earlier UConn/Courant poll found that 57 percent of Connecticut residents say the massacre at Sandy Hook has made them more likely to support gun control.
The survey did reveal some differences in which Americans think jobs and the economy should be the primary focus of the President’s speech. Younger Americans – those 18 to 34 – were least likely to say those were the most important issues, while nearly twice as many respondents ages 35 to 49 said Obama should put jobs and the economy front and center.
The President will likely at least touch on most of the subjects mentioned by Americans in the poll, according to UConn political science professor Ronald Schurin, who says the State of the Union Address often takes the form of a laundry list of proposals and planned initiatives.
“Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo said you should campaign in poetry and govern in prose,” Schurin says. “If the inaugural address is poetry, the State of the Union Address is prose. It’s very much a speech about governing.”
Listen to Schurin discuss the State of the Union Address:
These findings are based on The University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant Poll. The national sample of 1,002 randomly selected adults were interviewed by landline and cellular telephone between Jan. 22 and Jan. 28, 2013. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points for the entire sample, and larger for subgroups.
The Connecticut findings are based on The University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant Poll. The sample of 511 randomly selected Connecticut residents were interviewed by landline and cellular telephone between Jan. 24 and Jan. 28, 2013. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 4 percentage points for the entire sample, and larger for subgroups.
The data have been weighted by the number of adults in a household and the number of telephone numbers, land and cellular, at which adults in the household can be reached in order to equalize the chances of an individual adult being selected. The data have also been weighted by the sex, race, and level of education of the respondent, based on the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census.
The University of Connecticut-Hartford Courant Poll is a joint effort between one of the nation’s top public research universities and the oldest continuously published newspaper in America. The poll’s purpose is to provide unbiased opinion research into critical questions affecting both the state of Connecticut and the nation.