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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending March 23, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Voters want new thinking in Washington, D.C., but what they get is more of the same.

Consider the deficit-cutting plans rolled out by the two parties in recent days.   Voters don’t care much for either one. Thirty-five percent (35%) favor Republican Congressman Paul Ryan's plan that calls for a balanced budget in 10 years through spending cuts only. Ryan’s plan includes cuts to Medicare but not the military. Nineteen percent (19%) support Democratic Senator Patty Murray's plan that doesn’t balance the budget but includes a trillion dollars in tax increases and a trillion dollars in spending cuts over the next decade.

Interestingly, Murray is personally more popular than Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, even though she is much less well-known.   Ryan is now more disliked than former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who long has reigned as the most unpopular congressional leader.

Voter frustration in highlighted by Washington’s bumbling on the budget. Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters believe it is Very Important to balance the federal budget, although only seven percent (7%) think it is Very Likely to happen in the next 10 years.  

Just 16% of voters think it is possible to balance the federal budget without cutting spending.  But they are evenly divided on whether it is possible to balance the budget without raising taxes.

But The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and others on the political left argue that the federal deficit is, if anything, too small. Just 20% of voters share Klein’s view, while 59% think the deficit is too big.

Only 36% would rather have a balanced budget with higher levels of taxes and spending than a deficit with lower levels of taxes and spending.  

Scott Rasmussen discusses Washington’s never-ending budget battles with Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, on this weekend’s edition of What America Thinks .   Then he sits down with Caren Bohan from the National Journal and The Hill’s Bob Cusack to talk about what happened to President Obama’s post-election momentum.

What America Thinks is a weekly television show currently available on 61 stations. Find a station near you.

Obama’s job approval ratings have been slipping in the daily Presidential Tracking Poll.   Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters now consider the president at least somewhat liberal, including 43% who see him as Very Liberal. 

  Voters also disagree with Washington’s continued propping-up of the nation’s megabanks.  A new Senate report reveals that the nation’s largest bank, JP Morgan Chase, manipulated and withheld key information during its record trading losses last year, prompting even stronger belief that the big banks haven’t learned their lesson after receiving government bailouts in 2008. Most Americans want to end government subsidies for these “too big to fail” institutions, and half want to see these megabanks broken up 

“No bank should ever be in a position where it could be deemed too big to fail,” Scott Rasmussen says in his latest weekly newspaper column.   “It’s time to bust up the big banks.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in yet another dispute between the federal government and the state of Arizona. This time the fight is over Arizona’s requirement that people must prove their citizenship before being allowed to register to vote. The Obama administration argues that this requirement is discriminatory. However, 71% of voters nationwide side with Arizona and think proof of citizenship should be required before voter registration. By a two-to-one margin, voters reject the argument that this could discriminate against some.

Most voters like finding a way for illegal immigrants to stay in this country but not until the border is secured.   However, they remain skeptical about whether the federal government actually will secure the border if immigration reform legislation is passed.

One thing Americans don’t want the government involved in is the housing market. Just 21% think the government should help those who are struggling with their mortgages. Sixty-five percent (65%) believe that if someone can’t afford to make increased mortgage payments, he or she should sell their home and buy a less expensive one.

Short-term confidence about home values is down from last month’s high, but the number of homeowners who say their home is worth more than what they still owe on it is back over 50%.   More Americans than ever (28%) believe now is a good time to sell a house, although most still disagree.  

At week’s end, 53% of adult consumers said the United States is still in a recession. A plurality (49%) of investors agrees.

Voters again trust Republicans more than Democrats when it comes to handling the economy, but the president’s party continues to be trusted more on most issues tracked regularly by Rasmussen Reports. This includes a whopping 25-point advantage when it comes to the environment.

Democrats lead Republicans again this week on the Generic Congressional Ballot

However, only 17% of all voters nationwide feel Very Connected to a national political party.  That’s a stronger connection than people feel to the federal government (7%) and roughly the same as allegiance to local schools, local sports teams and high school friends.   Family remains far and away the strongest social connection: 76% of Americans feel Very Connected to their family. Also far outpacing the affiliation with a national political party is the 36% who feel Very Connected to their job and the 34% who feel such a connection to a local church or religious organization.

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In other surveys last week:

-- Thirty-one percent (31%) of Likely U.S. Voters say the country is heading in the right direction

-- Voters are now evenly divided over whether they want their governor to help make the president’s health care law a reality in their state. 

-- By a 46% to 38% margin, voters oppose a single-payer health care system in which the government provides coverage for everyone. 

-- The federal government provides deposit insurance for regulated banks up to a limit of $250,000 per account per bank. Nine-out-of-10 Americans (87%) support this federal policy

-- Many Americans planned to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day last Sunday by wearing green or having a drink even though they don’t consider it an important holiday. 

-- Sixty-five percent (65%) say the arrival of spring puts them in a better mood. 

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