Economy, deficit top U.S. voter issues ahead of Obama speech: poll

WASHINGTON, Mon Feb 11, 2013 — Americans are eager to hear President Barack Obama address the U.S. economy and federal deficit in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, with more than half still convinced the nation is in a recession, a poll released on Monday found.

Gun policy and healthcare are also top concerns U.S. voters want the president to discuss in his annual speech to the nation, according to the survey by Quinnipiac University. Obama, who began his second term last month after winning re-election in November, is expected to use Tuesday night’s speech to offer his plan for spurring the tepid economy, including proposals for investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy and education.

The nationwide poll found 35 percent of U.S. voters said the economy was a top concern, while 20 percent pointed to the federal deficit. It also showed 53 percent said the U.S. economy is still in a recession even though economists have said the downturn that began in late 2007 officially ended in July 2009. Fifteen percent said the nation’s gun policies were a top priority and 12 percent said they were most concerned about healthcare, Quinnipiac found. Its poll of 1,772 registered voters has a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points. Obama’s speech comes as U.S. lawmakers grapple with the nation’s $16 trillion debt and looming across-the-board government spending cuts slated to take effect on March 1.