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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending February 8, 2014

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Republicans are counting on a health care fix to help them capture the Senate, and in several key races, the early signs are favorable to the GOP.

Most voters continue to have an unfavorable opinion of the new national health care law, and 58% expect it to raise health care costs.

Sixty percent (60%) believe most of the current problems with the law are unlikely to be fixed within the next year. But voters remain evenly divided when asked whether they are more likely or less likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports the law.

In several Southern states, however, Obamacare is even more unpopular than it is nationally, and that may spell trouble for Democratic senators who supported the law.

Republican Congressman Tom Cotton holds a five-point lead over one of those senators, incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor, in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at the 2014 race in Arkansas.

Pryor had no Republican opposition in 2008 and was reelected with 80% of the vote. But he, like fellow senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, finds his job at risk this election cycle.

Across the aisle, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is in an unexpectedly tight race, running dead even with Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky. Interestingly, McConnell’s GOP primary rival, Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin, leads Grimes by four points.

Republicans have taken the lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the first time this year.

House Speaker John Boenhner unexpectedly pulled the plug Thursday on a GOP immigration reform plan, saying President Obama can’t be trusted to enforce its border control provisions, among others. That plan, providing a pathway to citizenship for those here illegally after the border is completely secured, was causing outspoken division in Republican ranks.

The trust issue has dogged supporters of comprehensive immigration reform from the start. As we reported 48 hours before Boehner’s announcement, only 33% of voters think it’s even somewhat likely the federal government will actually secure the border if the reform plan is passed by Congress. That includes just seven percent (7%) who say it’s Very Likely. And yet most voters for years have put border control well ahead of legalizing the status of those here illegally.

Still, 80% of voters believe a child who is brought here illegally but later earns a college degree or serves honorably in the military should be given a chance to obtain U.S. citizenship. Sixty-five percent (65%) think the military should offer U.S. citizenship to non-citizens who are willing to serve and do so honorably for at least five years.

Speaking of the military, 53% continue to believe women should be allowed to fight on the front lines and perform all the combat roles that men do.

The president’s daily job approval ratings worsened somewhat a week’s end but remain at levels seen for most of the past five years.

Obama’s monthly job approval rating rose a point to 48% in January. That’s up from 45% in November, his lowest monthly approval in two years, but still down eight points from December 2012’s recent high of 56%.

Most Americans agree with the president that mandatory early childhood education is likely to improve student performance, but 60% are not willing to pay any more in taxes to fund nationwide pre-K schooling.

After all, 60% think the federal government should cut spending to help the economy.

Consumer and investor confidence ended the week well below their highs for the new year.

The Rasmussen Employment Index which measures worker confidence rose less than half a point in January, just barely continuing the upward trend it began in November. That signaled the mediocre jobs report the federal government released on Friday.

But 42% of working Americans think they will be earning more money a year from today. That's down just one point from the highest level of confidence in nearly four years.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) believe that they have a better opportunity for career advancement by staying within their current company.

The 2014 Winter Olympics began in Sochi, Russia this week. What do Americans think of the international competition, and how closely are they paying attention to it?

Sixty-nine percent (69%) are at least somewhat likely to watch some of the 2014 Winter Olympics coverage on television, including 39% who are Very Likely to watch.

Women will be watching figure skating more than any other sport at this year’s Winter Olympics, while men will divide their attention equally between hockey, skiing and figure skating.

In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- Most adults think American children need to spend more time in school, but they still oppose extending the school year to all 12 months.

-- Fifty percent (50%) think it’s good for children to have a lengthy period off during the summer. Fifty-seven percent (57%) think students learn life lessons during summer vacation that couldn’t be learned in a classroom.

-- Sixty-three percent (63%) think Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should receive the death penalty if convicted, but just 49% believe the use of the death penalty is an effective way to fight terrorism.

-- Democratic hopeful Mike Ross has a three-point edge on his best-known Republican opponent, Asa Hutchinson, in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at the 2014 gubernatorial race in Arkansas.

-- Forty-nine percent (49%) of Super Bowl viewers said they planned to watch the game intensely, but 43% admitted they would mostly be socializing.

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