U.S. President Barack Obama smiles as members of the media walk out as he meets with Malcolm Turnbull, Australia's prime minister, not pictured, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Maya Rhodan
January 22, 2016

Guarding the homeland against the threat of terrorism and the economy are American’s top priorities heading into the thick of the 2016 election, a new Pew survey finds.

The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, finds 75% of Americans say both defending the homeland against terrorists and strengthening the economy should be Washington’s main focus this year. Jobs and the budget deficit have been among Americans’ top policy concerns throughout Obama’s second term, but they have fallen off as the unemployment rate has fallen and terrorism has return to the headlines in the wake of recent attacks in San Bernardino, Calif. and Paris.

Despite the general consensus on those two issues, the survey shows a partisan divide over what priorities the government should focus on. Among Democrats, revamping the nation’s gun laws, combating climate change, and reforming the criminal justice system should be at the top of Washington’s to-do list. Republicans concerns, however, center around terrorism, the economy, the deficit, and strengthening the military.

The survey also finds Americans have a mixed view of President Obama’s legacy heading into the final year of his presidency. About 37% say he’ll be viewed as a successful president once he leaves office, some 34% say he’ll be seen as unsuccessful, and 26% of those surveyed say it is too early to tell. More than half—51%—of those surveyed say the failures of the Obama administration will outweigh his accomplishments.

The survey of 2,009 Americans was conducted by Pew between Jan. 7-14.

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