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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending August 14, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

With Hillary Clinton facing increasing investigative scrutiny, are some big name Democrats poised to enter the race for the 2016 presidential nomination? Joe Biden? Al Gore?

Investigators confirmed this week that Clinton hosted top secret information on her private web server while serving as secretary of State. Most voters think Clinton’s use of a private, non-government provider for her State Department e-mail raises serious national security concerns.

Just 37% of voters trust Clinton, but 78% still believe she is likely to be the next Democratic presidential candidate, with 43% who say it is Very Likely.

How do Democrats feel about Biden these days? Voters think he’d make a better president than Clinton.

Right now, Democrats only have six debates officially scheduled for their presidential candidates. At least two of the candidates – Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley - say that’s not enough, arguing that a limited number of debates favors Clinton. Do Democratic voters think six debates are enough?

Government-paid college is sure to become a big issue on the campaign trail now that Clinton has joined Sanders and other senior Democrats in calling for it. Clinton’s New College Compact proposes to make college more affordable through a combination of lower tuition and fees, more state and federal funding and lower student loan interest rates. But who’s going to pay for it?

On the Republican side following the first candidate debate, Carly’s up, Trump’s down. Has ‘The Donald’ peaked?

Even Republican voters are asking themselves about presidential hopeful Jim Gilmore, Jim who?

Trump said recently that he tries to pay as little in taxes as possible, but most Americans insist they want to pay their fair share. The problem is most think they already are paying more than their fair share in taxes.

Job creation and illegal immigration are sure to be big issues throughout the presidential campaign. Many Americans suspect they’re competing for jobs with the growing number of illegal immigrants in this country.

Here’s a tale of two pollsters. Gallup has released a new survey with the headline, “In U.S., 65% Favor Path to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants.” But the actual question shows that 65% of Americans favor a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants “if they meet certain requirements over time.” Unspecified in the question is what those requirements are and the length of time in question.

Rasmussen Reports has found consistently for years that most U.S. voters want the border with Mexico secured to prevent further illegal immigration before there is any talk of amnesty. In May, 63% said gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living in the United States, the highest level of support for border control since December 2011.

While protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri one year after the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, most Americans have an even more positive view of their local police and don’t consider their crime-fighting tactics out of line.

Americans don’t have much good to say about the latest protests in Ferguson.  A grand jury chose not to charge the police officer in the shooting.

The U.S. Justice Department subsequently charged the Ferguson police department with a systematic pattern of racial discrimination but also stopped short of charging the police officer. Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters think the Justice Department is more concerned with politics than with making sure justice is done when it decides to investigate a local crime like the Brown shooting.

New Attorney General Loretta Lynch praised the police this week and condemned the violent protests in Ferguson. Lynch has gone out of her way since taking office to adopt a more conciliatory relationship with police officers than her predecessor Eric Holder had. Voters were clear earlier this year that they didn’t want the next attorney general be like Holder.

But then 70% of voters believe the level of crime in low-income inner city communities is a bigger problem in America today than police discrimination against minorities.

Only eight percent (8%) think race relations are better since President Obama’s election in 2008, but unlike most questions dealing with race, blacks and whites don’t disagree much on this one.

The president’s overall job approval ratings remain in the negative mid-teens.

Given the president’s aggressive global warming agenda, voters remain closely divided over what he has in mind for the U.S. coal industry. Most Republicans think he wants to get rid of coal all together.

Fifty-six percent (56%) believe the president's new plan to limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants will increase energy costs in the United States, and only 33% think it will do a lot to fight global warming.

Voters still put job creation ahead of the fight against global warming and don’t blame their fellow Americans for worrying about the economy first.

In other surveys last week:

-- Just 29% of voters think the United States is headed in the right direction.

-- Voters overwhelmingly believe that Americans are not informed when they go to vote.

-- When it comes to women’s issues, men and women unsurprisingly hold quite different views. But how much do they really disagree?

-- Age matters, too, when it comes to the hot-button issues facing the nation.

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