Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most highly cited issue is COVID-19, mentioned as the top problem facing the nation by nearly one third (32%) of all respondents nationally. While the percentages vary widely, from a low of 13% in Wyoming and Alaska, to highs of 44% and 42% in the District of Columbia and Hawaii, respectively, COVID-19 was the number one problem mentioned by respondents in every state except Alaska, where climate change comes out on top. (In Alaska, 16% named climate change as the number one problem facing the nation.) Figure 1 presents the percentages of respondents naming COVID as the number one problem facing the nation in each state.
Other problems mentioned by at least 5% of respondents include racism (10%), the economy (8%), healthcare (7%), and crime and violence (6%). These topline figures suggest that the issues both candidates have sought to emphasize are indeed among the most frequently cited problems. Yet, they also suggest that the campaign, in the aggregate, is being fought out more squarely on turf preferred by Biden. Biden's preferred issues rank 1st (COVID-19), 2nd (racism), and 4th (health care) among the public; in contrast, Trump's preferred issues rank 3rd (the economy) and 5th (crime and violence).