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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending October 6, 2012

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Close as the presidential race has been for months, it doesn’t take much to make a difference, and Mitt Romney’s debate win this past week appears to have impacted the numbers in the Key Three Swing States – Florida, Ohio and Virginia. It’s too early to say what impact Friday’s government jobs report will have.

New Rasmussen Reports polling taken after the debate finds Romney up two in Florida, up one in Virginia and down one in Ohio. It is virtually impossible for Romney to win the White House without winning at least two of these three states. They remain Toss-Ups in the Rasmussen Reports Electoral College Projections

Romney remains slightly ahead in Missouri and North Carolina, while Obama has more comfortable leads in New Mexico and Washington State

Nationally, there are signs of a Romney bounce in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll

Interestingly, just 17% of voters nationwide say debates are Very Important in terms of how they will vote.  But as Scott Rasmussen explains in his latest weekly syndicated column, while “debates rarely have a major impact on a campaign … a small shift could be decisive in a race as close as this one.” Still, he says, “Incumbent presidents often struggle in the first debate and do better in the second. … Does Obama have a comeback like that in him?”

Most voters view this year’s election as a referendum on the Obama presidency rather than one on Romney’s plans for the future.   So the president got a rare bit of economic good news at week’s end when the government announced that the national unemployment rate had fallen below 8% and was back to where it was in January 2009. 

The Rasmussen Employment Index rebounded slightly in September after falling to a 10-month low in August, correctly forecasting that the upcoming government job reports would be stronger than the prior month’s report. Still, the last two months have found the lowest levels of confidence measured in the Index since October of last year. Just 20% of workers report their firms are hiring, while 23% report layoffs. That’s the third straight month that reported layoffs have outnumbered reported hiring. Prior to that, there had been eight straight months with more hiring than layoffs reported.

Confidence in the U.S. job market remains near record lows for the year. Thirty percent (30%) think the unemployment rate will be higher in a year’s time, while 31% predict it will be lower. Nearly one-out-of-two Americans (48%) know someone who out of frustration with the difficult job market has given up looking for a job. That’s unchanged from August and matches the all-time high reached in surveys over the past two-and-a-half years.

The Rasmussen Consumer and Investor Indexes which measure daily confidence in both groups ended the week down several points from where they were three months ago. 

One of the president’s key economic decisions – and one of his most unpopular - was to continue the bailouts of banks and financial institutions begun by the Bush administration following the Wall Street meltdown. Neil Barofsky, the Treasury Department inspector general who oversaw those bailouts, has harsh criticism of them on this weekend’s edition of What America Thinks, Scott Rasmussen’s new nationally syndicated TV show. Former presidential speechwriters William McGurn and Dan Gerstein also will talk with Scott about the current state of the 2012 presidential race and Senate races across the country. See the list of over 60 stations carrying the program here.

Voters remain closely divided over whether the president’s health care law will be good or bad for the country, but most still hope the law is repealed. Eighty percent (80%) believe repeal of the law is likely if Romney is elected and Republicans take control of Congress. 

Also potentially troubling for the president is that most voters don't rate the United States stronger today than it was four years ago when it comes to race relations, opportunities for women and young people and America’s relationships overseas. Forty-nine percent (49%), in fact, think America as a nation is weaker now than it was in late 2008. Just 29% believe the country is stronger today.

Only 23% of Americans believe today’s children will be better off than their parents. At the same time, 37% of voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, matching the highest level of optimism since late June 2009, reached early last month. Fifty-five percent (55%) continue to think the country is heading down the wrong track.

For the month of September, the president's Total Job Approval Rating inched up a point to 49% from 48% in August. Fifty percent (50%) disapproved. Still, Obama’s overall approval rating has been higher this year compared to last.

The presidential race is of more interest to most voters than the battle for control of Congress, but most Americans are also unhappy with the status quo on Capitol Hill, Scott Rasmussen says in a new radio update. (Catch Scott’s radio updates Monday through Friday on stations across the country.

Republicans lead Democrats by four points on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot, but a GOP takeover of the Senate appears increasingly unlikely, according to the Rasmussen Reports Senate Balance of Power rankings

Senate surveys this past week find Democrat Tim Kaine pulling away from GOP rival George Allen in Virginia and Democrat Martin Heinrich with a double-digit lead over Republican Heather Wilson in New Mexico. Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell holds a commanding 57% to 37% lead over Republican challenger Michael Baumgartner in Washington State. The deadline has passed for embattled GOP Congressman Todd Akin to withdraw from the Missouri race, and incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill has now crossed the 50% mark for the first time.

Most Americans think this year’s political advertising on TV is more negative than it has been in previous years, and most also say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who runs a negative ad. But 65% believe the media reports more on negative campaigning than on issues raised by candidates. 

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

In other surveys last week:

-- Playoff action began last night for Major League Baseball’s wildcard teams, and the American League East champion New York Yankees are the slight favorite to win the World Series this year. However, that’s not necessarily the outcome many baseball fans are hoping for.

-- When it comes to sex education in schools, the majority agrees that teaching both sex education and abstinence-only education is the best route for students. 

-- More than 50 New York City public high schools are now giving out morning-after anti-pregnancy pills to students as young as 14, and most Americans disagree with that policy. 

-- Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory has taken his biggest lead yet – 54% to 38% - over his Democratic rival, Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, in North Carolina’s gubernatorial race

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