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Poll: Iraq is top concern

Terrorism, health care, economy follow close behind

U.S. Marines take cover behind a wall after an explosion in Ramadi, Iraq, Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The situation in Iraq was at the top of a list of 18 issues that concern Americans, with 90 percent of respondents to a national poll released Monday describing it as "extremely important" or "very important," up from 81 percent a year ago.

Terrorism was among four other issues that ranked nearly as high, with 87 percent of respondents saying it is "extremely important" or "very important," down only slightly from the highly charged weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, results of the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll suggested.

In a poll taken less than a month after those attacks, 95 percent of Americans ranked terrorism as "extremely important" or "very important."

In the latest poll, 41 percent said they were "very worried" or "somewhat worried" that they or a family member would become a victim of terrorism. The question had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, while the other questions had margins of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Although the 41 percent figure is down from the 58 percent who responded with a similar answer on the day of the attacks, it is the same percentage who indicated they were worried four and five days afterward.

Asked how likely it is that there will be further acts of terrorism in the United States over the next several weeks, 48 percent of respondents in the new poll said "very likely" or "somewhat likely." That is down from 66 percent of respondents who answered the same way in late September 2001.

In the latest poll, 36 percent said they think there will be a major terrorist attack in the United States in the next 12 months, versus 59 percent who said they did not.

Health care costs (87 percent), the economy (86 percent) and education (86 percent) were also bunched near the top of the poll, which asked respondents to rate the topics as "extremely important," "very important," "moderately important," "not that important" or "no opinion."

Social Security was described as "extremely important" or "very important" by 82 percent of those surveyed.

Unemployment (77 percent), the federal budget deficit (77 percent), foreign affairs (74 percent), energy policy (72 percent), and poverty and homelessness (71 percent) also rated highly.

Respondents also answered "extremely important" or "very important" 66 percent of the time on the issue of taxes, while immigration (65 percent) and the environment (62 percent) were close behind.

Limits on lawsuits, a goal President Bush laid out to reporters Monday in a news conference, were considered by a bare majority (52 percent) to be "extremely" or "very important."

Laws to help racial minorities followed, with 47 percent ranking the issue in either of the top two spots, followed by abortion (41 percent) and same-sex marriage (35 percent).

The telephone poll of 1,002 adults was carried out between Friday and Sunday.

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