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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending February 15, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia have provided plenty of drama for over a week now, but Washington, DC offered some excitement of its own this week.

Following a challenge from the Tea Party wing of the party, 12 Republican senators joined Democrats in voting to raise the federal debt ceiling through March 2015 without any additional spending cuts. While most U.S. voters agreed that not raising the debt ceiling would have been bad for the economy, they wanted a debt ceiling bill that included long-term spending cuts.

Another issue receiving a lot of attention in Washington is immigration reform, now that Republican leaders in Congress are expressing support for a measure that paves a way to citizenship for those here illegally after the border is completely secured. Voters aren’t confident the feds will actually secure the border, but an overwhelming majority have a favorable opinion of immigrants who work hard to pursue the American Dream.

The spending and immigration issues could impact some key Senate races this year, but many Republicans are hoping the health care law will help them capture the Senate. Voters are a bit more critical of the U.S. health care system four months into Obamacare, but most still have high praise for their health insurance coverage and the care they personally receive

Democrats have reclaimed their lead on this week’s Generic Congressional Ballot.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week called for lifting voting bans on millions of felons as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to address the U.S. justice system. Most voters believe someone convicted of a felony should regain the right to vote after serving their sentence problem-free.

Voters are only slightly less convinced that the Internal Revenue Service broke the law when it targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups, and they strongly oppose bonuses being awarded to IRS employees for their work last year.

On the economic front, the number of homeowners who say their home is worth more than what they owe on their mortgage has increased after a weak start to 2014. 35% Expect Their Home’s Value To Go Up Over Next Year Most homeowners continue to say they have not missed a mortgage payment in the last six months and fewer than ever expect to in the near future. 25% Believe Gov't Should Assist Those Who Can’t Make Mortgage Payments.

CVS Caremark drugstores announced last week that they would stop selling all tobacco products in their stores “to help people on their path to better health,” and most Americans think it's likely that other major retail chains will follow their example in the next few years.

Most voters continue to support an economic system that provides everyone a chance to succeed, and they generally believe it is fair and helpful for the economy to let those who are successful become very rich

Just 32% rate President Obama’s handling of economic issues as good or excellent, down two points from the previous week and the lowest positive ratings since early December

Finally, there was quite a bit of entertainment news this week, including one of the most celebrated events in modern music history. The Beatles made their U.S. television debut 50 years ago last Sunday and 63% say they have watched the iconic Ed Sullivan show

Late night comedian Jay Leno ended his 22-year run as the host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” last week, and Americans view him more favorably than his replacement, Jimmy Fallon. But more than half of adults say the switch from Leno to Fallon won’t impact their decision to watch the long-running show

Singer Clay Aiken, who got his start on the “American Idol” TV program, made headlines last week when he announced he is running for Congress in North Carolina, but very few consider a candidate’s celebrity a deciding factor to their vote.

In other surveys this week:

- Very few adults consider Valentine’s Day one of the nation’s most important holidays, but more than half neither look forward to nor dread the day 

- Most adults aren't planning to send or receive flowers this Valentine's Day, which may be good, since most want something else anyway. Here’s more of what Americans think about the holiday

 - For the second week in a row, 29% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey for the week ending February 9.

- A majority of Americans have a favorable impression of the so-called Baby Boomer generation, but they are less enthusiastic about the generation’s impact on America. Here’s more of what America thinks about the baby boomers.

- Most voters still have a favorable opinion of the Social Security system but also continue to doubt that they will receive all their benefits from the federal retirement system.

- Most voters continue to believe Americans should be able to choose their own Social Security and Medicare retirement age and decide what they pay out of their paycheck for those benefits.

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