Americans’ greatest worries: economy, dysfunctional government, race, immigration, national security

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     From left: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

    From left: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

    With just 10 days until the first presidential debate, we gauge public opinion on issues likely to be taken up by candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll.

    What do Americans think is the most important problem facing the country today? It’s a good guide to what should be covered in the debates. The list is straightforward: the economy, dysfunctional government, race relations, immigration, and terrorism and national security.

    One new issue is increasingly cropping up on the list: the election process itself.

    How satisfied are Americans with the way things are going in the country today? The new data for September show that 29 percent are satisfied, leaving about 70 percent who are not. That is about where satisfaction has been for a year or two. The all-time low was 7 percent in October 2008; the all-time high was 71 percent in February 1999. Democrats are more satisfied than Republicans. This is not a great predictor of who is going to win the election however.

    President Obama this week in Philadelphia said “I sure do get frustrated with the way this campaign is covered.” His frustration with the media in general is shared by the majority of Americans, and the new data show that Democrats are actually much more likely to have confidence in the mass media than Republicans. Confidence in the media to report the news “fully, accurately, and fairly” has dropped to its all-time low at 32 percent.

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