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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls: Week Ending Nov 8

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Now America’s in the eye of a hurricane. The storm of Election 2014 is over, and we have a little calm until the new Republican Congress and our lame duck president face each other down beginning in January.

There were 36 Senate races this fall. We projected a GOP takeover of the Senate on Monday. Here’s a state-by-state post-election look at how we did in our Senate surveying.

The Louisiana Senate race is the only remaining question mark. It will be settled by a December 6 runoff because no candidate cleared the 50% mark. We’ll be surveying that race soon.

Where does the president go from here? The Republican takeover of the Senate is seen by many as a repudiation of his policies. There’s no doubt that voters don’t approve of much of what they see out of the White House these days.

Heading into the midterm elections, Obamacare, the president’s major achievement, remained unpopular, with most voters still convinced that it will worsen health care in America.

The president in a press conference the day after the elections signaled that he still intends to grant amnesty to countless illegal immigrants if Congress doesn’t act. Most voters oppose such an amnesty because they want to see stricter border control that ends illegal immigration first.

It doesn’t help the president’s cause that barely half of voters now believe most immigrants to this country come here to work hard, support their family and pursue the American Dream.

The president’s daily job approval rating remains low. His monthly job approval stayed at 47% in October, showing no change from September.

Just 27% of voters think the country is heading in the right direction, but that was before Election Day. It’ll be interesting to see if that number moves noticeably up or down because of the outcome of Tuesday’s voting.

On the eve of the midterm elections, Republicans moved to a 43% to 41% lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot, their highest level of support since November 2012. But the two parties have been separated by just two points or less for most weeks this past year.

With the ink scarcely dry on Tuesday’s ballots, most voters already expect the new Republican majority in Congress to let them down. After all, only four percent (4%) think most politicians keep their campaign promises.

There’s no doubt that Americans are a pessimistic lot these days. Just 40% of voters think U.S. elections are fair.

Americans also elected governors in 36 states on Tuesday. Here’s our before Election Day assessment  and our after Election Day state-by-state look at how we did in our surveying.

The lopsided Republican gains in both the Senate and governor’s races can be explained in larger part by turnout. Republicans voted; many Democrats did not. We found out after the election that 56% of GOP voters felt “compelled” to vote in this year’s election, compared to 43% of Democrats.

This election cycle also appears to be a repudiation to some degree of negative politicking. Most voters rejected the use of the so-called “war on women”  and of outlandish racial complaints, known more familiarly as “playing the race card,” as political ploys more than genuine problems.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Americans told us that negative campaign ads actually make them less likely to vote for the candidate who produced the ad.

The economy remains the number one issue on voters’ minds. As of yesterday, just 23% of consumers and 29% of investors rated the economy as good or excellent.  Will the new Congress and the president be able to change those long-standing perceptions?

New job figures released by the federal government on Friday show the unemployment rate dropping to 5.8 percent. Our surveying earlier in the week found that 35% of Americans believe the job market is better than it was a year ago, and only 21% think unemployment will be higher in a year’s time. That’s more optimism than we’ve seen in several years.

Americans continue to believe, however, that private sector employees work harder and get paid less than government workers

An overwhelming majority also say it’s more common for grown children to live with their parents these days, and most think that’s a bad thing for families and the economy.

Meet Rasmussen Reports’ new on-air spokesman, Leon Sculti. 

In other surveys last week:

-- Americans say they would choose to be Superman if they could be any superhero, and if they could have one super power, it would be the ability to see into the future.

-- Eighty percent (80%) of Americans trust their doctor, unchanged from past surveying. But 32% think most doctors overprescribe drugs to their patients.

-- Even though voters still generally regard Medicare as a good deal for working Americans, only a third are willing to pay more in taxes to allow it to continue as is.

-- Just over a third of Americans still say they drink alcohol at least once a week. 

-- Nearly half of pet owners (49%) own a dog, while 23% own a cat

-- Daylight Saving Time ended last weekend for this year, and many Americans question whether it’s really needed anymore.

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Remember, if it's in the news, it's in our polls.

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