Infographic: What Are the Hot-Button Issues of the Day?

We’ve got a neat interactive infographic here just in time for the midterm elections. It takes a peek at what issues Americans are wringing their hands over, and how their concerns have changed since the start of the decade.

[Click image to visit interactive chart]

Designed by Hyperakt in collaboration with Good, the infographic is based on data the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press collects each January on the public's top political priorities.

You can filter the data by year and political party. You can also click on slices of the pie chart for detailed figures on, say, what percentage of Democrats cited jobs as a main concern in 2010 (above) compared with Republicans (below).

It's a fascinating look at how public opinion shifts with the tide of current events. Go back to January 2001. Terrorism wasn't even an issue for Republicans or Democrats, but a year later, both parties listed it as a top priority (61 percent of Dems and 73 percent of GOPers). Fast forward to 2010, and it's an even bigger matter, called out by 80 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans.

The disparities between the parties — and what they mean for public policy — become more evident when you zero in on issues like health care. The year health-care reform was signed into law, less than half the Republican respondents said they prioritized the issue, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about why the conversation about the bill became such a muddy blend of half-truths and outright distortions.

In the meantime, it's interesting to note that perhaps the two greatest long-term structural issues facing the U.S. — energy independence/climate change and spiraling healthcare costs — have actually fallen in the public consciousness in recent years. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the current economic straits is that it has so badly moved us away from fixing the issues that will affect our grandchildren most profoundly.

Anyway. Play around with it on Good's Web site here. It's also a nice way to present information that can sound like statistical gobbledygook in a standard newspaper article. And it might even offer some clues as to what'll unfold tomorrow.

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