updated 9/29/2006 10:38:22 AM ET 2006-09-29T14:38:22

Americans are very worried about the long-term future of the country, and they don't think Congress is paying attention to big issues on the horizon, like Social Security and global warming, according to a survey released Friday.

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The survey found 81 percent of respondents were very or somewhat worried about Social Security, and just as many were very or somewhat worried about energy issues. The findings were released by New York University's John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress.

"I was very surprised at the amount of interest in looking for long-term answers," said NYU professor Paul Light, who wrote the study. "What we found is there is tremendous demand for answers. They may not know exactly what to do but they're very, very worried."

More than terror, war
The general sense of worry extends beyond the usual political debates, to mundane issues like highways. The poll found 50 percent were very or somewhat worried about repairing the nation's older roads and bridges.

Those answering the survey generally gave Congress decent marks on terrorism - with 81 percent saying Congress is paying a great deal or fair amount of attention to terrorism.

On other issues, though, the survey said Congress is not paying enough attention to long-term concerns. Less than half, or 47 percent, said Congress is paying a great deal of attention to Social Security, while 80 percent said they were worried about Medicare but only 52 percent said Congress is paying a great deal of attention to the issue.

The findings also show a big partisan gap on the issue of global warming: 58 percent of Republicans saw a need to act now on the issue, while 87 percent of Democrats saw a need for action.

The survey found about half of respondents, 48 percent, had unfavorable views toward reporters who cover Congress.

The random-sample telephone survey of 1,000 adults was conducted in late July, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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