The 16 Most Important Issues to Americans, Ranked

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Though the 2024 presidential election is over a year away, campaign season is heating up. Already, candidates on both sides of the aisle are honing their messaging in an attempt to connect with voters. While much of the political discourse has so far focused on former President Donald Trump and his legal troubles, the most important issues to the public at large are much broader in scope. A successful bid for the White House will, in all likelihood, go to the candidate who can most effectively speak to those issues. 

According to a June 2023 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 16 major problems facing the country are top of mind for large swaths of the general public. These problems fall under several policy categories, including public health, the economy, national security, and more. 

Using Pew survey data, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most important issues to Americans in the coming election. The 16 respective issues on this list are ranked by the share of surveyed adults who see them as a “very big problem.” We also assessed the partisan divide for each issue, by comparing the share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning adults who see it as a “very big problem” with the share of Republicans and Republican-leaning adults who do. 

The share of American adults who perceive each of the issues on this list as a very big problem ranges from 24% to 65%. Issues like unemployment, infrastructure, and domestic and international terrorism rank near the bottom of the list, while inflation, health care affordability, and drug addiction rank near the top. (Here is a look at the U.S. counties where opioid prescriptions outnumber people.)

Notably, the divide between Republican and Democratic voters in how these issues are perceived is often striking. For example, among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, climate change is seen as one of the most serious problems, with 64% of the cohort agreeing it is a “very big problem” – more than four times the 14% share of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who do. (Here is a look at the states where carbon emissions are rising fastest.)

For Republicans, few issues are more important than illegal immigration, as 70% of party members and conservative voters surveyed agree it is a very big problem. Meanwhile, only 25% of Democratic voters do. 

Click here to see the most important issues to Americans.