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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending July 9, 2016

Saturday, July 09, 2016

The presidential race remains too close to call, even with a third-party candidate in the mix, and now we can add the murder of five Dallas police officers to the issues weighing on voters’ minds.

The presidential race has grown a bit tighter in this week’s White House Watch survey after Donald Trump had pulled ahead the week before.

The survey was taken Tuesday evening following FBI Director James Comey's announcement that his agency would not seek any indictments of Clinton despite her "extremely careless" handling of classified information while serving as secretary of State. Most voters disagree with Comey’s decision.

But then voters predicted months ago what the FBI would decide. Sixty-five percent (65%) think it’s likely Clinton broke the law by sending and receiving e-mails containing classified information through a private e-mail server while serving as secretary of State. But just 25% said in January that it was even somewhat likely she would be charged with a felony.

Trump and Clinton still run neck-and-neck with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson added to the ballot.

Trump had a testy meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill with Senate Republicans, telling dissenters to get on board his campaign because the voters have spoken. But is Trump already running as a third-party candidate against the national leadership of both the Republican and Democratic parties?

Voters still don't think much of Congress, and that includes the members they elect themselves. Just 20% of Republicans now think their elected representatives in Congress are doing a good job representing the party’s values. By contrast, 64% of Democrats feel their representatives are doing a good job.

Is Trump the Tea Party’s revenge on establishment politicians and their allies in the media?

In the two previous presidential election campaigns, voters considered the media biased in favor of the Democratic candidate and against the GOP nominee. Forty-nine percent (49%) now think most reporters are biased against Trump, but only 18% believe most are biased against Clinton.

Still, most voters agree that it’s not up to the government to ensure that the news media treat all candidates equally. Interestingly, Republicans are more opposed to government-mandated media fairness than Democrats are.

The horrific ambush murder overnight of five Dallas policemen is also sadly no surprise for most Americans. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters already felt by last September that there is a war on police in America. Most also blame politicians critical of the cops for fanning the flames.

The killings occurred during a rally protesting the shooting of suspects by police, but just 14% of Americans believe most deaths that involve the police are the fault of the policeman.

President Obama is already using the deaths of the police officers to call for stricter gun control laws. Support for additional gun control has risen to its highest level ever, but voters are evenly divided over whether more gun buying restrictions will help prevent future mass shootings.

Most voters still think Obamacare will worsen care and drive up costs, but they don’t want to repeal it altogether. Giving Americans more health insurance options is a critical, cost-saving change that most have been seeking for years.

Trump has vowed to renegotiate NAFTA and other international free trade deals if elected president, saying they are costing U.S. jobs. Clinton's primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, is also an outspoken opponent of those deals. Supporters of the free trade deals including Clinton, Obama and many leading Republicans say they lower prices for American consumers.

Americans strongly agree with both major presidential candidates about the importance of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and are willing to pay more for consumer goods to make it happen.

Voters are not big fans of free trade deals like NAFTA, but they also strongly believe that the politicians negotiating those deals don’t care what they think. A sizable majority continues to say as it has for years that  government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.

Senate Democrats this past week successfully blocked a measure that would have cut funds to cities that give sanctuary to illegal immigrants in violation of federal law. Most voters oppose giving taxpayer money to so-called sanctuary cities.

Most also believe the U.S. government needs to more aggressively deport illegal immigrants.

In other surveys last week:

-- The president earned a monthly job approval of 50% in June, unchanged from April and May, which marked the highest finding since April 2013. His daily job approval remains higher than it has been for much of his presidency.

-- But just 29% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction.

-- The death of a passenger in a driverless Tesla car has called the safety of these cutting-edge vehicles into question, with more Americans than ever saying driverless cars will make the roads a more dangerous place.

-- Most Americans still place high importance on the Independence Day holiday.

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