WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- After a campaign season of unprecedented expense and duration, taming the federal budget and avoiding the fiscal cliff top America's to-do list for President Obama and Congress, according to poll results announced today by The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) and National Journal. But in contrast to Washington's near exclusive focus on the budgetary standoff, the public expresses nearly equal concern about an array of other economic challenges, including the availability of jobs, Medicare and Social Security; quality of education; and rising costs of college and health care.
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The 15th quarterly Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll explores the public's economic priorities and concerns in the election's aftermath and their attitudes toward competing approaches to address these problems. The survey also finds that Americans are more positive about the direction of the country than they have been in quite some time; however, they remain skeptical of Washington's ability to effectively work together and address the nation's current challenges.
For the fourth Heartland Monitor poll in a row, the "Right Direction" metric increased and it is now at its highest level since the series' first poll in April 2009 (41% believe the country is heading in the right direction, compared to 50% who believe it's on the wrong track). However, Americans are less optimistic about their personal financial situation, led largely by Republicans who are likely unhappy about the election result.
Looking ahead to the next four years, Americans expect both sides to make compromises to get more done, though they are not sold on the reality of this happening. Less than half (43%) of respondents think it's likely that, over the next four years, the President and Congress will work together more than they did in the previous four, and there's considerable doubt about the budget situation improving.
"Fully aware of the challenges ahead, Americans want their leaders to compromise on a range of issues from the deficit and stabilizing Social Security to creating jobs and improving education. Americans consider the budget deficit and national debt to be top priorities for elected officials in Washington, and we know from our research that more than half of Romney voters and nearly six-in-ten Obama voters support compromise across party lines to address our current challenges," said Joan Walker, executive vice president of corporate relations for Allstate. "The country wants the leadership in Washington to move past the partisan gridlock and come together, even if it means bending or breaking some hardline stances."
Americans say that the most important issue for policymakers should be addressing the debt and the budget deficit, but they balk at the idea of cutting the debt through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. Ultimately, Americans want solutions to the country's budget woes, but they are highly protective of entitlement programs and they endorse continued public investment in infrastructure.
These results speak to the significant challenges faced by policymakers as they address not only the immediate task of avoiding the fiscal cliff, but also a long "to do" list over the next two to four years. And despite the significant challenges facing the country, the poll once again finds enduring signs of optimism.
"As from the beginning, the latest Heartland Monitor poll reveals that the strains of the Great Recession and its grueling aftermath have not cracked the public's bedrock optimism that America can meet the complex political and economic challenges confronting it," said Ronald Brownstein, editorial director of National Journal Group. "Exactly two-thirds of those polled say they believe the nation will eventually overcome these challenges—just as we've done with other major challenges throughout our history. Yet also like earlier surveys, this poll finds that optimism tempered by the fear that the hard times of recent years represent a new normal of diminished opportunity, particularly for young people, and widening insecurity."
Key findings from the 15th Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll (PDF) include:
1) The highest priority on America's to-do list is to address the budget deficit and national debt. However, Americans are also highly protective of Social Security and Medicare, another high priority issue that can be at odds with debt reduction efforts.
2) While Americans are focused on near-term solutions to address the debt and deficit, a plurality of Americans (43%) believe investments in education, training, infrastructure, and research, would do the most to help the country improve in the long-term, even if it means continued deficits and tax increases.
3) Americans are more positive about the direction of the country and about President Obama than they have been in quite some time. However, they're still conflicted about the impact of Obama's policies.
4) Americans are generally optimistic about the direction of the economy and their personal finances. However, looking ahead over the next four years, there are some doubts about whether the country's fiscal challenges will improve. And, there is strong evidence to suggest that the Presidential election results have caused some to worry about their financial future.
5) Looking ahead to the next four years, Americans expect both sides to make compromises to get more done though they are not sold on the reality of this happening. Regardless of the actions of policymakers, they ultimately believe that the country's problems can be overcome as Americans have always done in the past.
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer known for its "You're In Good Hands With Allstate®" slogan. Now celebrating its 80th anniversary as an insurer, Allstate is reinventing protection and retirement to help nearly 16 million households insure what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow. Consumers access Allstate insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives in the U.S. and Canada, as well as via www.allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate®. For an overview of the other Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Polls, visit http://www.allstate.com/heartland-monitor. Additional information is available at www.storiesfromtheheartland.com.
About National Journal Group
National Journal is Washington's premier source for 360-degree insight on politics and policy. With up-to-the-minute breaking news and analysis at NationalJournal.com, the essential intelligence of National Journal Daily, the knowledge and depth of National Journal magazine, and the comprehensive campaign coverage of National Journal Hotline, National Journal delivers everything you need to know to stay ahead of the curve in Washington.
About FTI Consulting
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 3,800 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.56 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2011. More information can be found at www.fticonsulting.com.
SOURCE The Allstate Corporation