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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending October 20, 20120

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The countdown to Election Day continues. President Obama’s much-improved performance in Tuesday night’s debate seems to have stopped his downward trend in the polls but has not yet helped him regain lost ground. Republican hopes for a Senate takeover, on the other hand, are slipping away.

The daily Presidential Tracking Poll continues to show the race far too close to call, Romney has the edge in our daily Swing State survey, and the president still has a slight lead in the Rasmussen Reports Electoral College projections. 

However, seven states with 66 Electoral Votes remain in the Toss-Up category and three states have just shifted from Toss-Up to Leans Romney.— In Florida Romney’s now up by five. In North Carolina, he’s ahead by six. And, the GOP hopeful has a double digit lead in Missouri 

As for the remaining Toss-Ups, the Republican challenger is ahead by three in Virginia, while Ohio and New Hampshire remain virtual ties. Wisconsin is a two-point race – Obama 50%, Romney 48%. The president is ahead by three in Nevada. Rasmussen Reports will release new numbers out of Colorado and Iowa early next week and revisit the other Toss-Ups as well.

The closeness of the race gives rise to all kinds of Electoral College scenarios as Scott Rasmussen explains in a new radio update. President Romney, with Joe Biden as vice president? (Catch Scott’s radio updates Monday through Friday on stations across the country.)

Several other state surveys this week merely illustrated the obvious. The president is well ahead in Massachusetts and Washington. Romney has commanding leads in Indiana and Montana

Romney in the first presidential debate said he would cut funding for public broadcasting as part of his overall plan to reduce government spending, and Democrats responded by running ads with Sesame Street's Big Bird defending taxpayer-funded television. But just 19% of Americans think cutting funding to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) should be a major issue in the current presidential election. 

Last week’s debate and the electoral impact of the economy will be the hot topics on this weekend’s edition of What America Thinks, Scott Rasmussen’s new syndicated television program airing on over 60 stations nationwide.  Jeremy Goldberg of Gen44 and Republican strategist Steven Some also will join Scott to discuss the latest swing state polling.

The final presidential debate on Monday night will focus on foreign policy, and voters are now more critical of how the Obama administration has handled the situation in Libya, including the murder of the U.S. ambassador there. Fifty-one percent (51%) think it will hurt the president’s chances for reelection, but voters remain slightly more confident in the president than in Romney to handle events in the Middle East.

The level of defense spending is also likely to come up in the next debate. Just 23% of voters now say the United States spends too much on the military and national security, the lowest finding over the past year of regular tracking. Forty-three percent (43%) say the country spends about the right amount on national security, while 27% say it does not spend enough. Only half, however, recognize that the U.S. spends more than any other nation in the world on defense.

When 2012 began, “many analysts though the Republicans had a good chance to win control of the Senate,” Scott Rasmussen writes in his latest weekly syndicated column. “But as Mitt Romney’s prospects have improved in recent weeks, it is the Democrats who are favored to end up controlling the Senate.” Scott explains why and what happened.

Rasmussen Reports now projects in its Senate Balance of Power rankings that the Democrats are poised to have 49 Senate seats after Election Day, and the Republicans will have 47. Four remain tossups, and the GOP needs to win all four to win control (three if Romney wins and Vice President Paul Ryan gets to cast the tiebreaking vote).

Surveys this past week find the Senate races in Montana and Virginia still neck-and-neck. New numbers out of the other Toss-Up states, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, will be released next week.

In other Senate races around the country, Democrats are ahead in Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. Republicans have the advantage in Indiana and Nevada

Democrats continue to lead Republicans on the Generic Congressional Ballot. This is the third time that Democrats have led on the ballot in the past six weeks and the first time they've led for two consecutive weeks since May 2009.

Linking a candidate to the Tea Party is still the most negative political label as far as voters are concerned, with liberal number two on the negative scale. Conservative and moderate are the most positive labels. But, not surprisingly, there remains a strong difference of opinion between Republicans and Democrats.

Support remains high for requiring voters to prove their identity at the polls, but more voters than ever believe requiring photo identification is discriminatory. However, there are also wide partisan differences of opinion on this issue.

While questions have been raised about the slightly improved jobs numbers just released by the federal government, the numbers themselves have prompted increased optimism among consumers and investors. The Rasmussen Consumer and Investor Indexes on Friday found that 19% of consumers now rate the U.S. economy as good or excellent, up from 14% the day the employment numbers were released. Fifty-five percent (55%) rate the economy poorly. Among investors, it's a similar 19% who say good or excellent versus 53% poor.

How did you do in this week’s Rasmussen Challenge? Check the leaderboard.

In other surveys last week:

-- Most voters still want to repeal the president’s health care law, with Republicans strongly confident that repeal is on the way. 

-- More Americans than ever have a favorable opinion of Ford, the one Big Three automaker that didn’t take federal bailout money. General Motors is a far distant second.

-- Americans’ confidence in the stability of the U.S. banking system is at its highest level in over three years. 

-- Thirty-seven percent (37%) of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, down just a point from the highest level of optimism since June 2009. The latest finding is up 13 points from 24% at the beginning of the year and up 21 points from 16% a year ago.

-- Most Americans continue to rate their lives pretty well but see the years under 40 as the best for the majority of people. 

-- The race to be Washington’s next governor remains virtually tied, with Democrat Jay Inslee holding a 47% to 45% edge over Republican Rob McKenna. 

-- Republican Pat McCrory, a former mayor of Charlotte, holds a 14-point lead over his Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, in the North Carolina gubernatorial race

-- The race to be New Hampshire’s next governor remains tight, with Republican Ovide Lamontagne leading Democrat Maggie Hassan 48% to 46%.

-- The National Highway Traffic Administration has issued an alert that anyone driving a car without its original airbags could have a counterfeit airbag which is a safety hazard. Still, 92% of those who own a car with airbags are at least somewhat confident that their airbags will deploy if they have an accident, including 52% who are Very Confident. 

-- Nobel Prizes are being awarded this month, but only 35% of American Adults think the Nobel is the most prestigious award a person can win. Fifty-seven percent (57%) say politics play a part in awarding the prizes, with Republicans more critical of the awards than Democrats are.

-- Most Americans think colleges should ban fraternity and sorority hazing rituals but don’t believe in banning these organizations all together.

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