- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2015

Dissatisfaction with government topped the list for Americans of most important problems facing the country last year for the first time in Gallup records, also marking the first year since 2007 that the economy was not the top ranking issue.

Complaints about government leadership led the list at 18 percent, followed by the economy in general at 17 percent, unemployment or jobs at 15 percent, and healthcare at 10 percent, Gallup said.

Other issues named by at least 5 percent of Americans were immigration (8 percent), the federal deficit/debt (6 percent) and ethics/moral decline (5 percent).

Issues such as race relations and immigration spiked to 13 percent and 17 percent, respectively, during certain points in the year, but it was the first time since 2001 that no single issue averaged 20 percent or more for the year.

From 2004-2007, Iraq was named the most important problem by at least 22 percent of Americans on average, and from 2008-2013, the economy was most important for at least 22 percent on average. Terrorism led at 24 percent in 2002 and the economy was No. 1 in 2003 at 27 percent.

“With unemployment and gas prices falling, the U.S. not being involved in any major wars and scaling back operations in Afghanistan, and no acts of domestic terrorism occurring, the factors that have caused Americans to converge on a single pressing concern in the past simply weren’t present in 2014,” wrote Gallup’s Lydia Saad.

“The dispersion of public concern seen in 2014 may also have implications for the 2016 presidential election,” she wrote. “Should it persist, the lack of a single defining public issue could make candidates’ task of honing a message for the election more complex.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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