An interesting set of data identifying the concerns of the public, and ipso facto contrasting those with politicians and partisans. The People's Agenda: America's Priorities and Outlook for 2014 by AP-NORC.
Economic concerns (unemployment, health of the economy and government debt, are three of the top five concerns. They are preceded by concerns about healthcare which is certainly topical and followed by concerns about immigration. Education, of as about great concern as immigration, tops out the list of six issues, about which at least 20% of the citizens are concerned.
Regarding the "defining challenge of our time" as identified by President Obama, i.e. income inequality, only 5% of the population are concerned about it and 93% have little or no confidence in the government being able to do something constructive about it. So, not a big deal and you can't fix it anyway.
Lack of confidence of the citizenry in the capacity of elected officials to constructively address an issue is not limited to income inequality. For the eleven items about which citizens are actually concerned, 60% or more of citizens lack confidence in the government's capacity to effectively address the particular concern.
Key findings from the report.
The public’s preferred agenda for the government in 2014 includes a diverse set of policy issues that range from economic problems to social policies to foreign affairs. Health care reform is at the top of the public’s list of priorities.
Americans want the government to put significant effort into addressing their priority problems. On the most commonly mentioned issues, large majorities of Americans, two-thirds or more, would like the federal government to devote a lot or a great deal of effort toward solving those problems. And although the public is split on how active a role government ought to take generally, nearly six in 10 see government as a necessary intermediary in dealing with the complex modern economy.
When asked how confident they are that the federal government can make real progress in solving each of the
problems they identified, Americans report very low levels of confidence, with large majorities saying they are only
slightly or not at all confident that the government can make real progress on the most commonly mentioned issues.
Americans express relatively little faith in the current political system, giving the government low marks on its performance upholding this country’s fundamental principles. For example, more people believe the government is doing a poor job than a good job of promoting the well-being of all Americans—not just special interests (55 percent vs. 9 percent)—and of representing the views of most Americans (55 percent vs. 9 percent).
Americans have important personal goals for 2014—such as issues with personal finances and health—but also report
facing significant challenges in meeting those goals.
Looking back, Americans most often cite technology as the biggest change to American life, and they tend to think the
quality of life in America has declined in the last four decades and will continue to do so over the next 40 years.