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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending June 18, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The politicking barely slowed as America absorbed the biggest terrorist attack since 9/11.

Americans have increasingly worried that the government isn’t focused enough on domestic Islamic terrorism, and most Americans saw the horror in Orlando coming nearly three months ago.

The majority of voters question whether the government will be able to stop future terrorist attacks on the homeland and say the country’s Islamic community should be doing more to condemn such violence.

Forty-nine percent (49%) think Islam as practiced today encourages violence more than most other religions, and 71% say Islamic religious leaders need to do more to emphasize the peaceful beliefs of their faith.

The man who killed 49 and wounded dozens of others in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida this past weekend was born in the United States to Afghan refugee parents. While details of the attacker’s life are still emerging, he pledged allegiance to the radical Islamic State group (ISIS) in a 911 call to police during the shooting, and ISIS has taken credit for the massacre.

Donald Trump blames radical Islamic terrorism for the Orlando massacre; President Obama believes instead that it shows a need for more gun control. Most voters say the Orlando incident is more about terrorism than gun control, but most also agree that someone on a terrorist watch list should not be able to purchase a gun.

Hillary Clinton has finally broken with the president and for the first time this week identified “radical Islamic terrorism” as the enemy. She has long been criticized by Trump and other Republicans for her unwillingness to do so. Long before the horrific killings in Orlando and San Bernardino, California, 60%  of voters said the United States is at war with radical Islamic terrorism.

Secretary of State John Kerry now concedes that terrorism is a bigger threat to the United States than global warming. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters consider terrorism a greater long-term threat to this country. Just 23% consider global warming the bigger threat.

Trump has come under criticism from some leaders in his own party for his tough talk after the Orlando killings, reiterating his call for a temporary ban on Muslims coming into this country until the federal government improves its vetting process. In late March, 45% of voters favored such a ban; 42% were opposed.

But the Obama administration is speeding the vetting process for Syrian refugees so 10,000 can come to the United States this year. Most voters still don’t welcome those newcomers from Syria and fear they are a threat to the country.

The president, however, continues to enjoy better-than-usual daily job approval ratings.

Hillary Clinton has moved to a five-point lead over Trump in Rasmussen Reports’ latest weekly White House Watch survey. It’s lucky for them that this year’s presidential election isn’t a popularity contest or both major party candidates might lose. Clinton and Trump are battling very high unfavorables.

On a less serious note, voters, especially men, would rather have a beer with Trump than with Clinton.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has endorsed Trump but is increasingly one of his most outspoken Republican critics. What is Ryan’s game?

Clinton and Bernie Sanders met privately on Tuesday, a meeting that could be critical to the future of the country but went largely unnoticed in the wake of the horrific weekend events in Orlando. Could this signal the party unity many Democrats are hoping for?

Democrats are much more enthusiastic than other voters about giving felons back their right to vote after they’ve served their time.

The trial of a Stanford University freshman charged with sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has drawn widespread criticism for the perceived leniency of the judge’s sentencing. An overwhelming number of Americans agree that the six-month jail sentence is too easy, and most say cases like Stanford are fair game for politicians to discuss publicly.

Still, while just 37% of voters believe most judges are impartial and guided by the law, only 31% feel it is appropriate for elected officials and political candidates to criticize specific judges.

In other surveys last week:

-- Two-out-of-three voters (67%) believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction.

-- Is America still a religious nation?

-- Last year produced the lowest U.S. fertility and birth rate on record, but Americans still are far more concerned about the population growing too fast.

-- Seventy-two percent (72%) think it’s important for someone to be married before they have children, including 41% who think it’s Very Important.

-- More voters support same-sex marriage, but most still don't believe it's an area that should be governed by the feds.

-- With the summer driving season at hand, Americans are much more pessimistic about gas prices than they were last summer.

-- Great Britain may vote to exit the European Union in a referendum next week, but Americans aren’t overly concerned about a possible “Brexit.”

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