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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls: Week Ending March 15

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The recent lawsuit filed by a New Jersey teenager against her parents demanding living expenses and college tuition was a “say what?” moment for many Americans. It also prompted a fresh look at the relationship most hold above all others, the one between a parent and a child.

What do Americans think about the relationship between parents and their children under 18?

For one thing, 74% believe that it’s important for people to be married before having children, with 44% who think it’s Very Important.

Eighty-nine percent (89%) feel it’s important for children to grow up in a home with both parents, including 62% who say it’s Very Important.

An overwhelming majority believes parents should be allowed to impose reasonable standards of behavior on children living at home. But few believe parents should be required by law to provide financial support for their children after they turn 18.

Given the record level of student debt and the continuing so-so jobs picture, it’s no surprise that many are wondering if they are getting their money's worth from college these days. 

The College Board has announced that they are revamping the SATs for the second time in a decade, but only 27% think they should be a major factor in college admission.

SATs or not, 56% say any good student who wants to go to college can find a way. But 57% believe the primary purpose of attending college is to learn the skills needed to get a better job, and just 27% think most college graduates actually have the skills needed to get a job.

On the jobs front, President Obama is proposing a budget with $55 billion in new government spending and higher taxes on some Americans for fiscal 2015 to boost the economy. However, most voters continue to believe that more spending and higher taxes hurt rather than help the economy.

Fifty percent (50%) believe the Obama administration already has increased government spending too much. 

Seventy-seven percent (77%) predict that the new national health care law will cost the government more than has been projected

Voters are evenly divided when asked if it would be good or bad for the economy if the government hired more people. But just 11% think the government should hire those who can’t find work for an extended period.

It doesn’t help the president’s pitch for bigger government that most Americans still believe private sector workers work harder than government employees but have less job security. One-out-of-two think government workers make more money, too.

Many argue that the large number of illegal immigrants in the country make it tougher for Americans to find jobs. The president met this week, though, with Hispanic congressmen who want to stop the deportation of most illegal immigrants until a new immigration law is passed. Obama signaled he is likely to slow the deportation process, but 60% of voters think the government already is not aggressive enough in deporting illegal immigrants.

The president’s daily job approval numbers have been inching down over the past couple weeks.

For the first time in 2014, Republicans and Democrats are running even on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

Our first look at Colorado’s likely 2014 U.S. Senate race finds incumbent Democrat Mark Udall tied with his leading Republican challenger, Congressman Cory Gardner.

Meanwhile, as the mystery of what happened to a Malaysia Airlines jetliner deepens, 60% of Americans say air travel can never be made completely safe from terrorism.

Consumer and investor confidence are both up this week and ahead of where they were at the first of the year.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters believe the development of domestic shale oil reserves would likely end U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

In other surveys this week:

-- Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- Forty-one percent (41%) of Wisconsin voters say they would vote for Governor Scott Walker if he was the Republican presidential nominee in 2016. 

-- Walker is tied with Democratic challenger Mary Burke in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at the 2014 governor’s race in Wisconsin.

-- Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper leads three of his top Republican challengers by several points in our first look at the 2014 gubernatorial race in Colorado.

-- Voters agree that sexual assault in the military is a serious problem, and 66% approve of legislation just rejected in the Senate that would take jurisdiction over prosecuting those cases away from the military chain of command.

-- Voters give the Central Intelligence Agency lukewarm praise for its job performance, and 67% think it’s likely the spy agency has been illegally interfering with a congressional investigation of its work, as a leading senator charged earlier this week.

-- Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Americans regard the news reported by the media as at least somewhat trustworthy, but that includes just 20% who think it is Very Trustworthy.

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