Jobs

In Their Words: What Is the Biggest Problem Facing Americans Today?

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The latest Reason-Rupe poll asked respondents to use their own words to describe the biggest problem facing Americans today. Most listed something related to the economy, jobs, and government spending. However a substantial number also mentioned political division, big government, greed, and morality. The graphic below displays the percentage of respondents who mentioned the following issues as America's biggest problems.

Another way to visually display these results is in a tag cloud. The following graphic depicts those same responses with word size corresponding to frequency. The bigger the word, the more people who mentioned that issue.

Click here for full survey results. 

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9-18 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79 percent. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Clickhere for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll's fieldwork. View full methodology

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  1. Interesting display… the results sadly don’t surprise me.

  2. Good to see that global warming/climate change/whatever is ranked so high.

    1. How can something that doesn’t exist be ranked?

      1. Exactly.

        1. It’s funny that about 20 years ago I told my college classmates that in the future, drugs wouldn’t be the #1 concern. Now drugs isn’t even on the chart.

  3. I believe that the first three issues on this list: jobs, economy and debt are all aspects of the exact same issue. I believe that we have fundemental issues with the way are economy has shifted from a private to public economy and unfortunately there are way to many politicians from both sides of the isle who want to attach the problem by shifting even more toward that direction. The public economy (government run employment) is combersome, slow to react to changes in the world and institutionally inefficient at whatever task it is pledged to carry out.

  4. To make sense out of a survey like this, one should look at the common thread, the common source, of several of the maladies named. A deeper probe would, I suggest, nominate corruption as our #1 problem. It is the source of much government spending motivation. That in turn has been a key cause in the economic downturn, of which unemployment is but one symptom. Use real campaign finance reform (to keep the rascals out) and term limits (to diminish that influence, once in) and I for one believe many of the other problems would fade away. Of what other of the listed “problems” can we say they are the father of those others listed?

    1. “The fish stinks from the head”,I firmly believe the problem is the Government, it is corrupt. When a government is so strong it becomes greedy and believes it can do no wrong. There should not have been any career politicians or government take over the lives of constituents. There should be a total revamp of Washington. There are too many government subsidies(ie farm, dairy,cotton and all the others)when the people own the land, they could grow something edible and not have the land lay fallow and collect subsidy. We have too much engrained “Pork Barrel” build in along with the elected officials, I agree that corruption is #1.

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  7. How about our criminal cartel government

    1. Hmmm. I would have expected the words Federal and State to be the biggest words. (I live in CA. YMMV.)

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  10. It looks like the respondents were forced to pick a single word as the “most important” word – either directly or by arbitrary decision of the poll-taker. Am I correct?

    The word cloud would be far more meaningful if all the respondents’ words were included.

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  12. “The economy”

    What about it? Is it stealing their mail? Eating their pets? And then there’s entries that are just subsets of The Economy. They might as well have “Bad Stuff” as a selection.

  13. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  14. Obviously, education. But (strangely?) not mentioned. People seem to have no understanding of priorities. And cause-and-effect.
    Just look at their answers to see.

  15. And I though not having a national motto was the biggest concern – although I see now where the HoR have made it a legistlative priority…

    1. make that “legislative.” Can’t type today (another big worry…).

  16. Ignorance, incompetence, ignoring the Constitution, corruption, Obama…ironic that all of the things causing the “biggest problems” according the graph are lowest on the scale.

  17. I would have expected the words Federal and State to be the biggest words.
    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post.

  18. The word cloud is misleading since it shows “Jobs/Unemployment” as just “Jobs” neglecting to include the majority of that response’s letters, and yet it includes the massive “Debt/Deficits/Spending”, placing it at the top and centering it.

  19. Obviously, education. But (strangely?) not mentioned. People seem to have no understanding of priorities. And cause-and-effect.
    Just look at their answers to see.It looks like the respondents were forced to pick a single word as the “most important” word – either directly or by arbitrary decision of the poll-taker. Am I correct?

  20. Of course they’ll say economy and jobs — most Americans just parrot what the media tells them. Jobs won’t fix what’ s wrong in America. We have simply lost sight of who we are as a nation and as a people. We have no common vision of our future together, and we no longer share a belief in, or respect for our most fundamental ideals.

  21. There should not have been any career politicians or government take over the lives of constituents

  22. The biggest problems facing Americans today are the damn Americans.

  23. While the top results do not surprise me the fact that health care is only 2% does. Perhaps people do not think about health until they have a health issue that they have to deal with and pay for.

  24. “respondents to use their own words to describe the biggest problem facing Americans today”

    Where did spoofing others fit in the survey?

  25. I envision a stoned student population and wonder what price we will pay.

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  27. antorum, whose opposition to gay marriage and birth control and positions on other hot-button social issues has won him a loyal following among Christian conservatives

  28. There should not have been any career politicians or government take over the lives of constituents.

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  31. Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9-18 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ? 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ? 4.79 percent. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Clickhere for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology. – ????? ??????
    ????? ???????

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