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Poll Indicates Americans Differ on Government Priorities

Aired December 20, 2000 - 4:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Bush's appointments appear to be in-line with the agenda on which he ran for president. Joining us now with a look at how the country views the Bush priorities, Gallup Poll Editor in Chief Frank Newport -- Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR IN CHIEF, GALLUP POLL: Well, Joie, above all else we know that the public thinks that George W. Bush will have a difficult time trying to do everything because the country is so divided. We can show you that. This was -- used the word issues, which we're talking about here.

Do you think the country is more divided now on key issues than after previous elections? And two-thirds of the public, you can see here, said, indeed, yes, it is.

We then followed up and said, well, who do you think will do the best job of trying to bring the country together? The Democrats in Congress, Republicans, and George W. Bush? This is the percent who said they would be very likely to be able to reach out to the other party. And Bush, although that's not a huge number, gets more credit than the other people in terms of trying to unify the country.

That then leads into our next question, where we actually asked Americans right out -- in a democracy, this is important. What do you think the key issues should be that George W. Bush should attack once he gets into office next January 20th?

Here they are. There are the top five. And look at this: uniting the country, 13 percent. That's his No. 1 priority, according to the public. You can just see they gave him more credit for being able to do it. They hope he can come through with it.

Then education and health care. Interesting here, we find that tax cuts and the economy are lower, just 6 percent each. That's important, because Bush himself has told us that tax cuts should be his No. 1 priority, but it's fairly low overall.

In fact, we can break this out by Republicans, independents and Democrats. Unifying the country more important to Republicans than the Democrats or independents. But we look over here, only 11 percent even of Republicans say his tax cut should be the No. 1 priority, which is important.

He says it's No. 1. The country certainly doesn't follow through with that in terms of what they think he should be doing. They're more interested in him unifying Republicans and Democrats.

That's what the public says about what Bush should be doing once he takes office.

Joie, back to you.

CHEN: Frank Newport from the Gallup Poll. Thanks, Frank.

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