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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending May 3

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The midterm congressional election season now begins in earnest, with primaries next week in North Carolina and later this month in several other states including Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky. Messy intraparty disputes will be settled, and the final matchups will be set.

Rasmussen Reports took at look at two more states this past week – Maine and Tennessee.

Republican Senator Susan Collins leads her Democratic opponent Shenna Bellows by an overwhelming 60% to 24% in Maine’s U.S. Senate contest

Similarly, incumbent Senator Lamar Alexander and his Republican primary challenger Joe Carr both far outdistance the top two Democratic hopefuls in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race, but Alexander is the stronger of the two GOP candidates. Tennessee voters will pick their party nominees in August 7 primaries.

The new national health care law is a real problem for Democratic contenders in Tennessee where opposition to the law is even higher than it is nationally. Among voters nationwide, 40% now think the federal government should require every American to buy or obtain health insurance, but 45% disagree with Obamacare’s so-called individual mandate. 

Thirty-six U.S. Senate seats are at stake this November. Twenty-one of them are held by Democrats and 15 by Republicans. Democrats have a 53-to-45 majority over Republicans in the Senate. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate.

See our most recent numbers from the Senate races in AlaskaArkansas, ColoradoIllinoisIowaKansasKentuckyLouisiana, Michigan, MississippiMontanaNebraskaNew Hampshire, North Carolina, South DakotaVirginia and West Virginia.

Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud is tied with incumbent Republican Paul LePage in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at Maine’s three-way race for governor

GOP Governor Bill Haslam has a commanding 57% to 27% lead over his leading potential Democratic challenger, former Sullivan County Commissioner John McKamey, in Tennessee's 2014 gubernatorial contest.

Americans nationwide report a slightly better budget picture in their state compared to two years ago, but 35% still think their state government is too big

See our most recent numbers from the governor's races in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

Republicans have taken a two-point lead over Democrats on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot. 

But considering that over half of voters agree neither party in Congress is the party of the American people, it's not surprising that more (56%) now say they have voted for an independent candidate. That’s up six points from 50% four years ago before the last mid-term congressional elections.

Forty-one percent (41%) of voters now identify themselves as conservative on fiscal issues such as taxes, government spending and business regulation. Just 14% are liberal in this area, while 40% view themselves as moderates. When it comes to social issues such as abortion, public prayer and church-state topics, 35% say they are conservative. Twenty-nine percent (29%) describe themselves as liberal, while 31% say they are moderates.

The president’s monthly job approval rating held steady at 47% in April, unchanged from the month before. His daily job approval ratings remain largely in the negative mid- to upper teens where they have been for much of his presidency. 

The Rasmussen Employment Index which measures worker confidence dipped less than a point in April, coming off a six-year high. The federal government jobs report for April released yesterday shows the addition of 288,000 new jobs, dropping the unemployment rate from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent, but many analysts note that this was due in part to a sharp drop in the number now working or seeking work.

At week’s end, 41% of consumers said their own personal finances are in good or excellent shape, while 19% rated them poorly.  Among investors, 60% rated their finances positively, while just six percent (6%) said they're in poor shape.

The Obama administration is considering a reduction in the number of illegal immigrants it deports, pending passage of an immigration reform plan now stalled in Congress. But 52% of voters believe the government already is not aggressive enough in deporting illegal immigrants.

The ongoing legal dispute between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal Bureau of Land Management has highlighted the extensive amount of land owned by the federal government, particularly in the Western states. The federal government owns over a quarter of the land in the country, and 36% of Americans think that’s too much

On the foreign policy front, few voters consider Ukraine a top security concern despite its regular presence in the news these days. Russia is what voters care about

Many hoped that the “Arab Spring” protests that began three years ago would lead to a new era of democracy in a number of Islamic countries, but just nine percent (9%) of voters believe the changes in countries such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have been good for the United States

In other surveys this week:

-- Twenty-seven percent (27%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction. That’s the lowest level of optimism since mid-December.

-- Forty-three percent (43%) view U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder unfavorably. 

-- Only 18% believe the Federal Communications Commission should regulate the Internet like it does radio and television.

-- Nearly two months after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, most Americans still say it’s unlikely the fate of the plane will ever be fully known. Most also don’t think the search for the jetliner should continue indefinitely.

-- Sixty percent (60%) of Americans favor the federal government recognizing a National Day of Prayer.

-- Twenty-three percent (23%) believe elementary and secondary schools these days assign too much homework, while nearly as many (20%) don’t think they assign enough. 

-- Fifty-one percent (51%) think electronic cigarettes should be regulated by the federal government the same way traditional cigarettes are. 

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