- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2015

National security and terrorism should be the top priority for the federal government, according to Republican voters — a dramatic turnaround from this time in the 2012 cycle, when that issue was a distant third to jobs and the economy and the deficit among GOP voters.

Twenty-seven percent of GOP primary voters said the top priority for the federal government should be addressing national security and terrorism, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The deficit and government spending were No. 2 at 24 percent, followed by job creation and economic growth at 21 percent, religious and moral values at 12 percent, and immigration at 8 percent.

Combining GOP voters’ first and second choices, national security and terrorism still won out with 53 percent, with the deficit/government spending and job creation/economic growth at 42 percent apiece, immigration at 26 percent, religious and moral values at 17 percent, and health care at 13 percent.

GOP presidential hopefuls with Capitol Hill experience like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania have been touting their foreign policy credentials and say such experience will be needed for a Republican presidential candidate to go toe-to-toe with Democrats’ likely nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Among all adults, the top three first-choice priorities were job creation/economic growth at 29 percent, national security and terrorism at 21 percent, and the deficit and government spending at 17 percent.

Among Democratic primary voters, the first-choice top issues were job creation/economic growth at 37 percent, health care at 17 percent, climate change at 15 percent and national security/terrorism at 13 percent.

Illustrating how much views have changed over the past several years amid developments like the rise of the Islamic State, just 8 percent of GOP voters listed national security and terrorism as the top priority in March 2012. Job creation/economic growth was No. 1 at 36 percent, followed closely by the deficit/government spending at 35 percent.

Among all adults in March 2012, national security and terrorism was actually fifth at 6 percent, behind jobs and the economy (45 percent), the deficit/government spending (20 percent), health care (10 percent), and energy and the cost of gas (8 percent).

The survey of 1,000 adults was taken April 26-30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent. The margin of error for 251 Republican primary voters is plus or minus 6.2 percent and the margin of error for 273 Democratic primary voters is plus or minus 5.9 percent.

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