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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls: Week Ending April 5

Saturday, April 05, 2014

March Madness is upon us.

Much of the country is caught up in the NCAA basketball playoffs that come to a head this weekend, but 48% of Americans think most big-time college athletic programs play dirty when it comes to recruiting.

No wonder then that only 24% believe the NCAA does a good or excellent job policing college athletics.

Tournament followers are predicting the University of Florida Gators will win the national men's collegiate basketball championship this year, although they’d rather see the University of Wisconsin Badgers win instead.

Final Four action tips off today when Florida faces the University of Connecticut Huskies in North Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium. This will be followed by a matchup between Wisconsin and the University of Kentucky Wildcats. The championship game is set for Monday night.

The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled in favor of allowing football players at Northwestern University to form college sports’ first labor union. Only 25% of Americans think college athletes should be allowed to unionize, but 66% expect sports teams at other colleges and universities to try to form unions.

Going into the NCAA tournament weekend, a new government report said the number of jobs nationwide is now back to the level seen before the economic downturn in early 2008. Of course, millions have joined the workforce since then, and the jobless rate remains at 6.7%.

The Rasmussen Employment Index which measures worker confidence jumped four points in March to its highest level in over six years of monthly tracking.

Essentially unchanged from surveys over the past year, however, are the 42% of Employed Adults who think they will be earning more money a year from now and the 26% who are looking for a job outside of their current company.

Nearly half of all Americans think housing prices will still take several more years to recover, and few have high hopes for the stock market in the near future.

At week’s end, the Rasmussen Consumer and Investor Indexes which measure confidence among both groups were down several points from the beginning of the year. But that was prior to Friday's release of the new jobs report.

The president’s monthly job approval rating fell back two points to 47% in March but is still slightly higher than November’s two-year low of 45%. For most of the three years prior to his reelection, the president’s full-month job approval stayed at either 47% or 48%.

Obama’s daily job approval rating remains at levels seen for much of his presidency.

Just 27% of voters think the president is doing a good or excellent job handling the issue of gun control, his worst ratings to date in that policy area. Most voters (53%) now oppose tougher gun control for the first time since the Connecticut elementary school shootings in December 2012.

Forty percent (40%) think the federal government should require every American to buy or obtain health insurance. Forty-six percent (46%) oppose this so-called individual mandate in the new national health care law.

Only 19% of voters think it is a good use of IRS resources for the agency to police public compliance with Obamacare. Sixty-five percent (65%) believe the Internal Revenue Service should remain focused on collecting taxes. After all, only 21% believe the IRS is aggressive enough in pursuing tax cheats.

More voters than ever (62%) believe it is good that the American people are aware of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs, but just 24% think the federal government should grant a full amnesty from prosecution to Edward Snowden, the man who disclosed those programs to the public.

There was bad news this week for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, one of those who hopes to take Obama’s place in the White House. New Jersey voters now view him more unfavorably than they did when the so-called Bridgegate scandal first broke three months ago, and 47% say they are less likely to vote for him as president in 2016.

Democrats hold a one-point lead over Republicans on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

Both Republican contenders, incumbent Thad Cochran and his Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, have a solid lead over former Democratic Congressman Travis Childers in Rasmussen Reports' first look at the U.S. Senate race in Mississippi.

In other surveys this week:

-- Twenty-eight percent (28%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- Sixty percent (60%) of voters agree with a House Republican plan that would offer U.S. citizenship to non-citizens who are willing to serve in the military and do so honorably for at least five years.

-- Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans are concerned about the safety of vaccines for children, including 24% who are Very Concerned.

-- Most Americans consider autism a serious problem in the country today, and 18% who say they or someone in their family has been diagnosed as autistic think childhood vaccinations are the primary cause of autism.

-- The Obama administration is reportedly proposing to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from prison if it will help keep U.S.-brokered Middle East peace talks alive, but just 32% like that idea.

-- Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Americans share a favorable opinion of the Boy Scouts of America, but that's down 14 points from 73% in February 2012.

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