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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls: Week Ending Nov 16

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Obamacare hasn’t been good for the political health of President Obama and his party this past week.

Just 35% of Likely U.S. Voters now believe the new national health care law is good for America, and 55% favor repealing it.

Fifty-four percent (54%) oppose the law’s individual mandate which requires every American to have health insurance by January 1 or else face financial penalties. Just 34% support it.

And that was before the Obama administration announced Wednesday that only 106,000 Americans signed up for health insurance in October through the new national and state exchanges because of major problems with their websites. That's well below the projected goal of 500,000 sign-ups in October, and most of the websites are still broken.

That wasn’t the worst political news, though. Despite the president’s oft-repeated promise that Americans could keep their health insurance policies if they liked them, the implementation of Obamacare appears to be forcing millions of Americans to change those policies and pay more for them.

Voters are evenly divided when asked whether the president deliberately lied about the potential impact of the health care law before it was passed by Congress. But 71% think Americans should be allowed to keep their current health insurance policies even if they do not meet the standards set by the new law.

After all, 75% or more have said in surveys all year that Americans should have the right to choose between different types of health insurance plans based on what they cover and how much they cost.

Obama responded to the political outcry on both sides of the aisle by announcing a one-year extension for those policies that don’t satisfy the new law’s requirements, but opponents questioned the legality of the president making such a change in a law passed by Congress. Meanwhile, 39 Democrats jumped ship in the House on Friday and voted for a Republican bill that gives insurers the power to extend plans through 2014 that would otherwise be canceled because of the new law. Insurers also can enroll new customers in these plans.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of voters now give the president poor marks for his handling of issues related to health care, a new high for the year. Democrats continue to be strong supporters of Obama, but even among voters in the president’s party, those giving him good or excellent marks for his handling of health care have tumbled 25 points over the past month, from 78% to 53%.

The president’s daily job approval rating remains at its lowest levels in months, and on Wednesday fell to -25, his worst rating in over two years.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of voters now consider the president at least somewhat liberal in political terms, including 43% who believe he is Very Liberal.

Bill Clinton was one of several Democrats who urged Obama publicly to keep his promise and allow Americans to stay on their existing health insurance policies if they wanted to. Sixty-two percent (62%) of voters think Clinton was a better president than Obama. Looking ahead, a plurality (41%) believes that the former president is a plus for Hillary Clinton’s hopes for the White House. Only 20% consider Clinton a minus as far as his wife’s presidential ambitions are concerned.

Seventy percent (70%) of Likely Democratic Voters say they would vote for Hillary Clinton if the 2016 Democratic presidential primary were held in their state today. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul lead the 2016 presidential pack among Likely Republican Voters.

If the 2016 presidential election were held today, 43% of all voters would choose Clinton, while 41% would opt for Christie.

Democrats jumped out to a seven-point lead over Republicans on the Generic Congressional Ballot as the battle over the partial government shutdown escalated last month. Now they lead by just two.

Despite the shutdown, 65% of Americans believe government workers have more job security than those in the private sector.

Speaking of government workers, 56% oppose the use of standardized testing to measure school and teacher performance.

Forty-five states have adopted new national education standards known as Common Core, but just 39% of Americans these standards are likely to improve student achievement throughout the country, with 11% who say it's Very Likely.

House Speaker John Boehner this past week said immigration reform legislation is dead in the current session of Congress. Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters feel the current policies and practices of the federal government encourage illegal immigration.

Fifty-two percent (52%) favor the current negotiations with Iran that would reduce that country’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting some economic sanctions. But 37% believe the United States should get Israel’s approval before making any nuclear deal with Iran.

While the holiday shopping season is rapidly approaching, consumer confidence remains near its lowest levels of the year.

But many Americans still will find a way to bring good cheer to the season.  Two-out-of-three Americans consider themselves regular alcohol drinkers. They're almost evenly divided between those who drink for social reasons and those who drink because they enjoy it.

Among those who do drink, 40% say wine is their alcohol of choice. Thirty-four percent (34%) reach for a beer first, while 20% prefer hard liquor.

There are a few surprises, too, in what America thinks about drinking.

In other surveys last week:

-- For the second week in a row, 24% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, is the nation’s most influential banker; Janet Yellen, the board’s vice chairman, is about to take over Bernanke’s job. Yet both are unknowns to a sizable number of Americans.

-- Following the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines leaving thousands dead and many more displaced, 25% of Americans say they have contributed or will contribute money to the relief effort there.

-- Just 28% favor the smoking of electronic cigarettes in public places.

-- Forty-seven percent (47%) planned to do something special last Monday to celebrate Veterans Day and honor those who have given their lives for this country.

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