Americans Rank Countering Terrorism No. 1 Priority for 2015

By Brittany M. Hughes | January 19, 2015 | 3:31 PM EST

( -- When it comes to the top U.S. priority for 2015, more Americans believe defending the country against terrorism should be a greater focus for the federal government than the economy, jobs, education and social security, a recent study by the Pew Research Center found.

The Boston Marathon bombing on Apr. 15, 2013, which killed 5 people and wounded 264 other people, was carried out by Muslim radicals Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

It was the number one concern.  According to the poll, which surveyed 1,054 Americans, countering terrorism received a 76 percent rating as a top priority heading into the new year. This is the first time that defending against terrorism has received more support than rebuilding the economy since 2010, when it held the top position at 80 percent.

In the study, which was conducted Jan. 7-11, the economy was ranked second overall as a top priority with a 75 percent rating. Jobs and education were tied for third at 67 percent.

Pew noted that while “there has been little change over the past two years in the number saying that defending against terrorism should be a top priority; in fact, this has consistently been among the public’s leading policy goals since 2002,” battling terrorism “has moved to the top of the priorities list as the economy and jobs have fallen.”

The research study also found that strengthening the U.S. military has gained significant favor among Americans, with 52 percent saying strengthening the military should be a top priority for the federal government in 2015. That figure is up from 43 percent in January of last year.

The two radical Muslim terrorists that attacked the Charlie Hebdo editorial office in Paris killed 12 people, including this French policeman who they shot in the street. (Photo: AFP)

The study also shows a wide range of opinions on what should be a top U.S. priority depending on political party.

Pew reports that of those polled, 54 percent of Democrats listed “global warming” as a top priority, versus only 15 percent of Republicans. Democrats were also much more likely to rank protecting the environment at 66 percent, with only 35 percent of Republicans agreeing. 

Defending against terrorism led Republicans’ list of priorities with a vote of 87 percent. Seventy one percent of Republicans also voted strengthening the military as a top priority, up from 58 percent in 2013.

While only 41 percent of Democrats said strengthening the military was a top priority for 2015, that number is up from 31 percent in 2013.

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