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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending February 18, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Voters clearly aren’t seeing the same President Trump that many in the Washington press corps see.

While the New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other media outlets portray a presidency in chaos and perhaps even breaking the law, 55% of Likely Voters at week’s end approved of the job Trump is doing.

Forty-five percent (45%) say the country is headed in the right direction. That compares to 30% a year ago and is higher than any week during Barack Obama’s entire eight-year presidency. We’ll check in again Monday afternoon to see if that level of optimism is holding steady.

Meanwhile, questions are growing about the source of top-secret information leaked to the media to hurt the Trump administration. A plurality (47%) of voters believe America’s intelligence agencies have their own political agenda.

Nearly half (48%) also think most reporters are biased against the president. Only 12% think they are biased for Trump.

No wonder then that the president sparred with White House reporters at a press conference again on Thursday. Can he make the label “fake news” stick?

Trump’s belief that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to America is one of the primary reasons behind his temporary freeze on refugees and visas. Most voters continue to recognize that threat and believe the United States is still at war with radical Islam.

Most support the president’s plan to temporarily halt refugees and visas from seven Middle Eastern and African countries identified by the Obama administration as terrorist havens until the government is satisfied with the vetting process to keep out potential terrorists.

Trump has been highly critical of the judges who stopped his temporary refugee and visa ban. Just over half of voters agree with the president that most judges play politics, but they don’t think public criticism of judges by name is a good thing.

While the refugee freeze is tied up in the courts, the State Department has sped up acceptance of newcomers from the Middle Eastern and African terrorist havens targeted by the freeze. Most voters think that’s making America less safe.

Most also continue to believe that those who illegally overstay their visas to this country are a likely national security threat and that the federal government needs to work harder to send them home.

The president argues that federal government overregulation is hurting the economy and has signed an executive order mandating that every time a government agency adds a regulation, it needs to cut two others. Most Republicans approve; most Democrats don't.

Just 21% of all voters believe the current level of business regulation is about right

But voters have long felt that Wall Street got off lightly after the economic meltdown in September 2008. This helps explain why voters, including Republicans, favor more government regulation of the U.S. financial system.

Trump has talked about a major federal plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure, and Democrats are receptive. Americans aren’t overly concerned about infrastructure problems, though, and see them primarily as a state responsibility.

Hillary Clinton recently declared that "the future is female," and nearly half of voters - regardless of gender - agree there will be more women leaders in the near future. But younger voters are more convinced of this than their elders.

A sizable number of voters believe the Women’s March on Washington that took place in January made its point and will champion women’s rights worldwide.  Yet while many politicians and activists claim there is a political “war on women” in America today, only 25% of voters agree.

In other surveys last week:

-- Money talks big time in U.S. politics, but three of the most influential behind-the-scene “talkers” - billionaires George Soros and brothers Charles and David Koch - are unknowns to a sizable number of voters.

-- Americans continue to place high importance on teaching as a profession but don’t think many are clamoring to become teachers.

-- Though Americans place a lack of discipline high on the list of problems in public schools today, most don’t think teachers in the United States should follow the lead of some in the United Kingdom who are wearing body cameras to record students’ behavior.

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