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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending December 12, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Donald Trump appears to have defied the media and the political status quo once again.

Following the terrorist killings in San Bernardino, California, Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. He was quickly denounced by President Obama, Hillary Clinton, most of his opponents for the Republican presidential nomination and most media outlets for establishing an unprecedented religious litmus test. Trump countered that we’re at war with radical Islamic terrorism and that his suggestion is just common sense. A sizable majority of Republicans – and a plurality of all voters – agree with Trump and support a ban on Muslim immigrants.

Just one-in-three voters (34%), however, give Obama good or excellent marks for his response to the mass shooting in San Bernardino. 

In a speech to the nation Sunday night following the first major attack by radical Islamic terrorists on American soil in several years, the president outlined the measures being taken to fight the radical Islamic State group (ISIS), called for more gun control and cautioned against anti-Muslim bias. But 69% of voters think the San Bernardino incident is primarily a terrorism issue rather than a gun issue

Meanwhile, belief among voters that the terrorists are winning the War on Terror is near its highest level ever in regular surveying since 2004.

Perhaps then it’s no surprise that at week’s end, belief among Republicans that Trump is their next likely presidential candidate is nearing a record level in our latest Trump Change survey.

Voters also are far more likely to think the media is biased against Trump than against his chief Democratic rival Clinton

The president’s daily job approval rating fell during the week to the high negative teens. 

Despite Obama’s call for more gun control and his continued demonization of the National Rifle Association, most Americans believe the gun policies of the NRA make this country safer, perhaps in part because 51% think more gun control will hurt law-abiding citizens the most.

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, has said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” The NRA and others have suggested that the presence of more Americans with concealed carry gun permits will reduce the number of people killed in violent incidents in this country. Americans tend to think that’s true but aren’t strongly sold on the idea. 

Still, gun sales set a single-day record on the day after Thanksgiving. Gun owners strongly believe that having a gun in the house makes them safer.

Americans in general are also more convinced than ever that media coverage of mass shootings inspires copycat killers.

Yet while Americans take their rights very seriously, they’re also increasingly worried about domestic terrorism. With this in mind, they appear willing to waive some of their rights in exchange for public safety.

In other surveys last week:

-- Only 25% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction.

-- Jesus vs. Santa. Who’s the winner this year?

-- Christmas may be the commercial extravaganza of the year, but for most Americans it’s still the day that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

-- Americans are also embracing the holiday season in a very charitable mood.

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