More Democrats chose making college more affordable and preserving the entitlement programs as a priority, while more Republicans were interested in making spending cuts and addressing the threat of Iran, the poll found. 

Those items topped a list of other possible priorities that included making the U.S. less dependent on fossil fuels and eliminating loopholes in the tax code.

The poll underlines the fact that the president will have to thread the needle in order to garner bipartisan support — something he has said he wants — in his approach to issues such as the economy. While the economy is the No. 1 priority for most Americans, there is still a sharp divide on how to approach policies to shore it up.

Making major cuts to military and defense spending came in last on a list of 12 items polled, with fewer than four in 10 Republicans or Democrats considering it an important goal.

The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.