A large plurality of Americans, 39 percent, say unemployment is the most important problem facing the country today. “Unemployment” recently managed to take the top spot away from the issue of “the economy in general” in Gallup’s polling.

What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today? Recent 2011 trend

While I think it is noteworthy unemployment as an issue has gone up steadily, I personally find it hard to understand how people could untangle that as a specific problem from the bad economy in general. I can’t imagine thinking high unemployment is a huge problem but that the state of the economy in general is not a problem, or vice versa. It’s two sides of the same coin to me and I suspect to a lot of other people as well.

What I think is really important is that in the graph you can see the problem of the federal deficit never breaking 20 percent despite all the top politicians in Washington spending months fixated on it. There was never a public outcry to focus on the deficit. President Obama’s decision to pivot to the issue of deficit reduction, spending months talking about it was a direct contradiction to what the electorate wanted.