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Surprising poll also shows what's not on Americans' minds

March 17, 2009 |  7:08 am

It seems like new polls come out daily, focusing on President Obama (he's very popular, he's average popular, he's slipped a little) and on the economy, which is issue No. 1 these days. Last spring it was rising (gas) prices.

Not surprisingly, given the job losses, the 8.1% unemployment rate, the fear of job losses and the president's recent rhetorical agenda, the economy remains primary on the American mind. This week's CNN/Opinion Research Poll found the economy was by far the top concern of Americans, at 63%.

What gets less news coverage, however, is what Americans are not thinking about. What's not worrying them?

The topics might surprise you. According to the same CNN/ORC Poll of 1,019 adults between March 12 and 15, Americans are currently the most unconcerned about energy -- only 2%. The second least thing on their minds is a tie at 5% between terrorism and education, despite Obama's much-touted recent education reform announcement.

Of course, an unexplained car bomb in Baltimore could radically change that terrorism number in a few hours.

Close by are two other topics that once were Topic One: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with only 6% concerned about them.

The next least important reported concern for Americans is the federal deficit at 8%, followed closely by healthcare, which the president wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars reforming. Yet it's of concern to only 9% of this survey, barely a fraction of the 63% concerned over the economy. If such numbers endure, they could make the president's legislative sales job more difficult.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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