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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending July 23, 2016

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Just 21% of U.S. voters think the country is headed in the right direction, the lowest finding in nearly three years of surveying. No wonder, with cops being shot, racial tension growing, terrorist incidents increasing here and abroad, the economy bumbling along and the two major political parties nominating presidential candidates whom a lot of Americans suspect don’t have the answers.

Heading into next week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton has rebounded into a virtual tie with Donald Trump in Rasmussen Reports’ latest White House Watch survey. But a sizable number of voters like another candidate or are undecided with three-and-a-half months to go until Election Day.

This past week’s Republican convention has been unconventional, to say the least. 

Trump trashed his Democratic rival's tenure as secretary of State in his convention acceptance speech Thursday night, but as far as voters are concerned, it's Clinton's biggest professional achievement

Voters tend to think House Speaker Paul Ryan is just making a political move with his call to block Clinton from receiving intelligence briefings following the FBI's conclusion that she was “extremely careless” with classified information during her time as secretary of State. But voters trust Trump more when it comes to handling the nation's secrets.

Most voters disagree with FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to seek a criminal indictment of Clinton after the agency concluded that she potentially exposed top secret information to hostile countries when she used a private e-mail server as secretary of State.

Republicans and unaffiliated voters tend to see Trump's lifetime of business experience as good training for the White House.  Most Democrats do not.

Voters now rate Clinton and Trump equally when it comes to their preparedness for the White House. That’s a noticeable shift in Trump’s favor from April when voters were nearly twice as likely to view Clinton as better qualified than her GOP opponent.

While voters insist that vice presidential nominees are important to their vote, most say Trump’s choice of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as a running mate will not affect how they vote in the fall.

At the beginning of the week, voters told us they were more likely to watch some of this week’s Republican National Convention than next week’s Democratic National Convention.

As in previous presidential election cycles, voters expect reporters covering political campaigns to help their favorite candidates and think it's far more likely they will help the Democrat than the Republican.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters think most reporters are biased against Trump, while only 18% believe most reporters are biased against Clinton. 

Americans also strongly believe the media is emphasizing shootings by police officers involving black suspects over ones in which whites are shot and that that media coverage is prompting attacks on police.

With the nation reeling from angry protests and deadly violence against police officers, voters are more pessimistic than ever about the state of race relations in this country since the election of its first black president.

But President Obama continues to enjoy better than average daily job approval ratings.

Following the terrorist mass shooting last month at an Orlando nightclub, 56% of voters said the country needs stricter gun control, the highest level of support ever, but voters were evenly divided over whether more gun buying restrictions will help prevent future incidents like the one in Orlando.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Americans favor laws that allow them to wear guns in public, but 46% oppose so-called “open carry” laws. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. These attitudes are little changed from five years ago.

In other surveys last week:

-- Anyone who’s been outside lately has likely seen the effects of Pokémon Go, the new reality-integrated game sweeping the world. But not everyone is on board with the latest gaming trend.

-- Are Americans too attached to their electronic devices? 

-- Voters here tend to think the failure of the military coup in Turkey is harmful to the United States, but as with many issues overseas, it isn’t an issue of overwhelming concern.

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