- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2003

Voters across the ideological spectrum agree with President Bush's focus on homeland security and national defense and believe a Republican-controlled Congress should do the same. American voters also want Congress to focus on a few "meat and potatoes" issues, and acknowledge lawmakers cannot and should not try to solve everyone's problems.
Those are the key findings of the American Survey, a nationwide survey of 600 people who voted in the November elections. The survey, which was conducted in early January 2003, asked voters about their expectations for the new Congress.
Voters want Congress to support the president on homeland security and national defense.By a large margin voters believe a Republican Congress was elected to support President Bush on national security issues. The magnitude of this view varies somewhat across demographic and ideological groups, but voters consistently say supporting the president to protect the country is the major reason why voters chose a Republican majority in Congress.
This suggests that voters' desire for a Congress that would work with the president to protect the nation overshadowed voters' traditional inclination for a "divided government."
A meat and potatoes majority. By large margins, they want lawmakers to focus on four major issues national security, economic stimulus, health care (prescription drugs) and education.
This impulse is consistent across demographic groups (with females and those under 35 more solidly concerned about education and males more focused on economic stimulus). There is a substantial dropoff in interest after those four issues. Items such as energy and even tax relief were low on the list of priorities.
In short, voters want the Republican Congress to deliver on the basics and leave other issues for later.
The era of big government on life support?Just 17 percent of voters believe the federal government could solve "many" or "all" of the problems facing America. Surprisingly, this view was consistent across the ideological spectrum with about the same number of self-identified liberals holding that view as conservatives.
This widespread recognition of the limitations of the federal government indicates that liberal and conservative voters, while supporting different approaches to solving problems, are roughly the same when it comes to recognizing the limitations of the federal government.
The survey was conducted by Andres-McKenna Research on Jan. 6-7, included 600 respondents who voted in the November elections and has a margin of error of plus/minus 4 percent.


Gary J. Andres is a senior managing partner with the Dutko Group and a former White House senior lobbyist. His column appears on Thursdays.


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