Poll: Voters want focus on economy over guns, immigration reform

Despite dominating Washington’s attention, voters say the issues of gun control and immigration reform should take a back seat to efforts to bolster the economy and create jobs, according to a new poll.

A new Gallup poll released Wednesday finds 86 percent of voters saying Congress should make its top focus job creation, with 86 percent saying Congress should prioritize work on improving the economy. 

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Those two issues are the top concerns for voters, with gun violence and an overhaul of the nation’s immigration reform laws at the bottom of the list of 12 priorities.

Only 55 percent of those surveyed said reducing gun violence should be a top priority, and a similar 50 percent said that Congress should focus on immigration reform.

Broken down by party affiliation, the poll found that slightly more Democrats prioritize job creation than Republicans.  Ninety percent of Democrats said creating more jobs should be Congress's top priority. Meanwhile, 84 percent of Republicans said creating more jobs should be the top priority. 

On gun violence, 73 percent of Democrats said that should be Congress's top priority, while just 40 percent of Republicans said it should be a primary focus of lawmakers. 

For immigration reform, 44 percent of Democrats said it should be the top priority of lawmakers to 55 percent of Republicans.  

Voters also ranked “making government work more efficiently,” with 81 percent saying it should be a top or high priority in Congress. A similar percentage called for focusing on “improving the quality of education received by American schoolchildren.”

Healthcare issues also topped guns and immigration, with 77 percent wanting a focus on Social Security and Medicare and 70 percent wanting lawmakers to prioritize reducing the costs of healthcare. Sixty-eight percent said improving healthcare access was a top priority.

The poll's findings come as lawmakers continue to try and pass separate legislation strengthening the nation's existing gun laws and overhauling the country's immigration reform legislation. 

Efforts on gun violence, which were sparked after the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year, were put on hold after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last month pulled a comprehensive gun control bill from the floor. The move came after a bipartisan measure to expand background checks failed to gain the 60 votes needed, casting doubt on the gun bill’s prospects for passage.

A Senate immigration reform bill from the bipartisan Gang of Eight also faces a tough fight, with conservative lawmakers skeptical of plans to legalize the status of the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

Earlier in the week, the conservative Heritage Foundation released a new report estimating that the Senate immigration bill would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion over the next few decades, a claim disputed by the senators who drafted the legislation.

The Gallup poll was conducted from May 4-5 among a random sample of 1,021 adults. It had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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