WHERE ARE THE JOBS (PLANS)?…. A CBS News poll released last week asked Americans what they’d like to see Congress focus on next year. The results weren’t close — a 56% majority cited “economy/jobs” as the top issue. Health care was a distant second at 14%, while tackling the deficit/debt was a very distant third at 4%.

Today, a new Gallup poll shows similar public attitudes. (via DemFromCT)

These results, from a Gallup poll conducted Nov. 4-7, 2010, mark the first time since April that mentions of jobs/unemployment have outpaced mentions of the economy in general when Americans are asked to name the top problem facing the nation. The employment situation and economic conditions have been the two most frequently mentioned problems in Gallup’s monthly updates all year, generally followed by healthcare and dissatisfaction with government. Americans’ concern about natural disasters flared up in the summer months as the BP oil spill dominated the news, but quickly faded.

The question was, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” Jobs was the top issue, mentioned by 33%, followed by “the economy in general,” at 31%. In other words, using the CBS poll’s phrasing, a combined 64% of the country cited “economy/jobs” as the top issue — that’s nearly two thirds of the population.

The deficit made the list of problems, coming in fifth in Gallup’s poll at 9%. To put that in perspective a bit, for every person who considers the deficit the country’s most important problem, seven people mentioned the economy/jobs.

And it’s against this backdrop that the incoming House Republican majority intends to get to work on their agenda — and not focus on job creation at all. On the contrary, the GOP agenda, such as it is, focuses on issues that aren’t considered especially important by the American mainstream — gutting the health care system, protecting tax cuts for the wealthy, taking money out of the economy in the form of spending cuts, and reducing the deficit. (Yes, some of those are contradictory goals, since gutting health care and cutting taxes would make the deficit much worse.)

It’s like living in some bizarro world in which politicians win elections, and proceed to ignore the overwhelming crisis the public is desperate to see addressed.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.