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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending July 2, 2016

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Is Hillary Clinton in hotter water at week’s end?

After trailing Clinton by five points for the previous two weeks, Donald Trump has taken a four-point lead in Rasmussen Reports’ latest White House Watch survey.

Following the release this week of the final report by the special congressional committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, nearly half of voters believe then-Secretary of State Clinton lied to the families of those who died there.  

Former President Bill Clinton didn’t help his wife when he called on Attorney General Loretta Lynch for a private meeting late in the week. Lynch is the one who decides whether to go ahead with indictments if the FBI and prosecutors recommend them at the end of their investigation of Clinton’s use of an unauthorized private e-mail server while she was secretary of State.

Trump and congressional Republicans were furious when the Clinton-Lynch meeting was exposed, and the attorney general responded first thing Friday morning by saying she will not overrule prosecutors and the FBI if they want to indict Clinton.  Most voters believe it’s likely Clinton broke the law by sending and receiving classified information through the server, but they are far less convinced that serious charges will be brought against her.

Despite Trump’s problems with some in his own party,  Republicans have a lot more confidence in his honesty than Democrats do in Clinton's.

Trump made a major speech on jobs and trade on Tuesday that even the New York Times characterized as “perhaps the most forceful case he has made for the crux of his candidacy …. that the days of globalism have passed and that a new approach is necessary.” Some speculate that last week’s vote in Great Britain to leave the European Union signals a rise of economic nationalism that is good for Trump. Despite the media panic and market swings that have resulted, Americans are not particularly worried that the “Brexit” will hurt them in the pocketbook

The latest terrorist carnage - this week in Istanbul, Turkey - also may be helping Trump who is arguing for a harsher response to radical Islam than Clinton. Voters remain lukewarm about President Obama's national security policies and expect more of the same if Clinton moves back into the White House next January. Trump, if elected, will definitely change things, voters say, but not necessarily for the best.

Voters strongly disagree, however, with Attorney General Loretta Lynch who told an audience recently that love is the best response to terror incidents like the one in Orlando, Florida.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren joined Clinton on the presidential campaign trail earlier this week, fueling speculation of an all-woman national ticket. But most voters - including Democrats and women - say a vice presidential nomination for Warren wouldn't help Clinton's chances for the White House.

Some prominent female supporters of Clinton have said women have an obligation to vote for a woman candidate. Most voters, especially women, strongly reject that notion and say it's more important where the candidate stands on the issues.

Bernie Sanders’ decision to vote for Clinton over Trump isn’t impressing many Democrats.

Obama has joined in the Democratic attacks on Trump to help Clinton. The president continues to earn the best job approval numbers of his entire time in office.

A recent tie vote in the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that halted Obama’s plan to exempt millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. Clinton has vowed to take the plan even further. Trump wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and deport many of those who are here illegally. Most voters continue to oppose the president’s plan as they have from the start and believe instead that the U.S. government needs to more aggressively deport illegal immigrants.

Twenty-six states challenged Obama’s amnesty plan in federal court. What does America think of this and other cases like it pitting states against the Obama administration? 

House Republicans recently unveiled a long awaited health care alternative to Obamacare that would eliminate the requirement that all Americans have health insurance with the goal of lowering health care costs. Most voters still say lowering costs is more important than universal coverage.

Among other proposed changes in the GOP plan are reforms for medical liability and malpractice as well as letting consumers buy health insurance across state lines. Voters aren’t sold on government caps on malpractice payouts but remain enthusiastic about removing state barriers to purchasing health insurance.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter formally announced Thursday that transgender people will be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military. When he first said last year that the transgender policy was under consideration, 45% approved. Nearly as many (42%), however, opposed allowing people who identify with and want to live as the opposite sex to serve openly in the military.

In other surveys last week:

-- This Fourth of July weekend, Americans will celebrate the independence of the United States of America, and most say they wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else.

-- But only 29% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction. What would the Founding Fathers think? 

-- Could this be a sign of a recovering economy, though? More Americans plan to take a summer vacation than have for several years.

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