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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending May 24

Saturday, May 24, 2014

American voters have more information than ever, it seems, but the real question is, do they know it?

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Likely U.S. Voters complain that they don’t have enough say when it comes to choosing their leaders. But in the same survey, while 90% say voters in countries with democratically elected governments have a responsibility to be informed about major policy issues, just nine percent (9%) feel most of their fellow countrymen are informed voters.

And what have the voters wrought?

For one thing, they’ve chosen a president who continues to earn a double-digit negative job approval rating as he has for most of his time in office. Seventy-three percent (73%) now consider the president at least somewhat liberal in political terms, the highest finding in nearly four years. But only 11% of voters consider themselves liberal when it comes to both fiscal and social issues.

Then there’s an elected Congress that just nine percent (9%) of voters give good or excellent marks to, and that’s an improvement from recent months.

Only 19% now trust the federal government to do the right thing most or nearly all the time, so Americans aren’t likely to be surprised by the controversy that has erupted over the performance of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Just 21% think the government does a good or excellent job delivering veterans benefits, although interestingly recipients of those benefits give the feds slightly better marks.

The federal government and the courts continue to advance the cause of gay marriage nationwide, but voters remain closely divided when asked if they approve. 

Voters will have a chance this November to change the makeup of the House and Senate, so it will be interesting to see what they make of the information that’s out there. With party primaries beginning to narrow some of the races down, we looked at two more Senate contests this past week.

West Virginia’s Senate race is closer following the primaries there, but Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito still holds a nine-point lead over Democrat Natalie Tennant.

In Georgia, Republicans still won’t have a specific nominee for a couple more months, but the final two contenders are running slightly behind Democrat Michelle Nunn. In a crowded GOP primary field, no candidate crossed the 50% margin, so Peach State Republicans must choose between Congressman Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue in a July 22 runoff election.

The next presidential race is still a couple years away, but Republican strategist Karl Rove prompted some chatter when he said recently that Hillary Clinton’s health will be an issue in 2016. Speaking of information, 38% of voters believe all declared presidential candidates should release at least their most recent medical records to the public. By comparison, 73% think all presidential candidates should release at least their most recent tax returns.

The economy remains the number one issue as far as voters are concerned, however. The U.S. Justice Department this week announced the indictment of five Chinese military computer hackers for stealing commercial secrets. A plurality (45%) of voters believes a cyberattack by another country poses a greater economic threat to the United States than a traditional military attack.

It’s no secret that younger adults tend to be more avid consumers of the latest technology, but just how much of a difference is there between today’s millenials and those who came before them? We decided to find out what America thinks

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of Americans say now is a good time for someone in their area to sell a house. That's up from 34% last month and just one point shy of 39% in September, the highest level of confidence in regular surveying since April 2009.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of homeowners expect their home’s value to go up over the next year. That ties the highest level of confidence since early 2009, first reached in October.

Among homeowners who are Very Confident they know the value of their home, 73% say it's worth more than when they bought it.

Consumer and investor confidence remain higher than they were at the beginning of the year.

In other surveys this week:

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

-- Democrats lead Republicans again on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

-- Following his narrow primary win, Republican nominee Pete Ricketts leads his Democratic opponent Chuck Hassebrook 47% to 40% in Nebraska’s gubernatorial race.

-- Just half of Americans say they are likely to visit the new National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York City, but 62% don't think a historic film shown there should be changed so as not to offend Muslims.

-- Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans consider Memorial Day, celebrated this coming Monday, the unofficial start of summer.

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