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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending May 17

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Going to college is leaving a lot of Americans deep in a financial hole these days, and they don’t seem very confident that spending all that money is getting them anywhere.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of Americans think the primary purpose of attending college is to learn the skills needed to get a better job, but just 28% believe most college graduates have the skills to enter the workforce.

When you consider that nearly as many (25%) think most high school graduates have the skills for a job, Americans clearly don't feel that four or more years in college train many more people for the workforce.

No wonder than amidst this year’s graduation season that an overwhelming majority (86%) of adults believes it will be difficult for these graduates to find jobs in the current economy. This includes 37% who say it will be Very Difficult.

Looking at the current jobs situation, 38% of Employed Americans now say they work more than 40 hours a week, up from 33% a year ago. Last May, 73% said they generally looked forward to going to work. Just 62% feel that way now.

But 68% rate their boss or supervisor as good or excellent.Eighty-seven percent (87%) say they have a good or excellent relationship with their coworkers.

More American workers than ever (61%) plan on using all of their vacation time this year, and fewer (54%) are connecting with work while they are away. 

Support for raising the minimum wage remains unchanged, with 51% of Americans continuing to favor President Obama's proposal to push it up from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

For the first time, more voters think reducing the income gap between rich and poor is more important than encouraging free market competition – by a 45% to 42% margin. But when asked about each separately, voters still place higher importance on a free market.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) favor strict government sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Support for these sanctions have run in the high 50s to low 60s for years, and last year Americans said employer sanctions are the most effective way to stop illegal immigration.

The Rasmussen Consumer and Investor Indexes which measure daily confidence in both groups remain near their highest levels this year following the recent drop in the national unemployment rate and the continuing growth in the stock market.

The president’s daily job approval rating has improved slightly in recent days but appears headed back to the negative high teens where it has been for most of his time in office.

Democrats lead Republicans again on the Generic Congressional Ballot as they have for much of this year.

Primary voters have spoken in several states over the past couple weeks, and we took a look at a couple of the resulting match ups this past week.

Republican primary winner Ben Sasse still holds a 17-point lead over Democratic opponent David Domina in Nebraska’s U.S. Senate race

GOP Governor John Kasich has 45% to 38% lead over Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald in Ohio’s 2014 gubernatorial contest

The new national health care law is central to many races around the country. Thirty-six percent (36%) of voters now expect the health care system to get better under Obamacare, but 48% disagree.  Still, that’s the highest level of optimism in regular surveying since late 2012.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) agree with House Republicans that the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups merits further investigation.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on whether police must obtain a warrant to search data on the cell phone of a person under arrest. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Americans oppose warrantless searches of mobile phones, and those who use their phone for financial transactions are even more firmly opposed. 

However, even 68% of those who use a smart phone or tablet for financial transactions still think losing their wallet is worse than losing their phone

In other surveys this week:

-- Twenty-nine percent (29%) of voters say the United States is headed in the right direction

-- Despite increasing tensions with Russia, 36% still think the United States should remove its troops from Western Europe and let the Europeans defend themselves. But that’s down from 55% in October 2011.

-- Forty percent (40%) believe the U.S. government should do more to help rescue the schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamic terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria. Voters are much more supportive of helping rescue the girls than they are of further U.S. involvement in Ukraine or Syria.

-- Following a near-collision between a drone and a commercial jetliner near Tallahassee, Florida in March, 41% say the increasing commercial use of unmanned drone aircraft in this country is making flying less safe

-- Americans generally favor laws like those recently passed in California and Maryland that ban discrimination against men and women who claim to be the opposite sex, but opposition increases dramatically when they are told these laws may allow biological men to freely use women's public bathrooms and vice versa.

-- Ninety-three percent (93%) of Americans whose mothers are still alive planned to visit or call them last Sunday on Mother’s Day

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