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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending September 21, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mitt Romney’s newly aired comment that 47% of Americans are dependent on the government and locked in to vote for President Obama has prompted debate all week. Scott Rasmussen argues in his latest newspaper column that Romney’s remark like Obama’s notorious comment about small-town voters bitterly clinging to their guns and religion highlights the condescending attitude the political elites have towards voters.  “If he wins the White House, the only way for Romney to succeed will be to side with the nation's voters and throw out the club in Washington,” Scott writes. “That will be great news for the country but bad news for political insiders on both sides of the partisan aisle.”

Romney’s comments about the 47% naturally supporting Obama were inaccurate since the figure includes many seniors on Social Security. That’s a group where the GOP challenger has strong support. However, while clumsy and inaccurate, Romney’s comment tapped into a strong underlying belief: 64% of Americans agree that there are too many Americans dependent on the government for financial aid. Even most of those who say they are currently living in poverty (56%) agree.

But as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker explains on this weekend’s edition of What America Thinks , Scott Rasmussen’s new nationally syndicated television program: “There are some people, like the president, who define success, in government at least, by how many people are dependent on the government. … My view, and I think [Romney’s] view and others’ view of success, is just the opposite: It’s not how many people are dependent, rather how many are not dependent on the government. Not because we kicked them out to the streets, but rather because we empowered them to control their own destiny by getting the private sector back on track and that’s where real economic prosperity, and ultimately freedom, come from.”

Walker will be Scott's first guest on What America Thinks which among other things will look at whether Wisconsin is really in play for Election 2012. This weekend's show is available on more than 60 stations nationwide.  A longer interview with Walker will be released online early next week.

Wisconsin voters are almost evenly divided over how the governor they almost removed from office is doing these days.  Fifty-one percent (51%) at least somewhat approve of Walker's job performance, while 49% disapprove.

New state polling shows the president up by three in Wisconsin  and up two in Nevada.  Obama has jumped to a double-digit lead in Pennsylvania.  Romney is now up two in Colorado and ahead by three in Iowa and New Hampshire.  All these states with the exception of Pennsylvania remain Toss-Ups in the Rasmussen Reports Electoral College Projections.  Nationally, the overall race continues to be a toss-up, too, in the daily Presidential Tracking Poll and in the daily Swing State Survey

Voters still think tax and spending hikes are more likely under Obama and the Democrats than under Romney and the Republicans.  But most also don’t expect tax cuts if the GOP wins the White House and Congress, although spending cuts are now viewed as more likely.

Even with the election just weeks away, most unaffiliated voters (55%) remain unenthusiastic about the choice between Obama and Romney and regard it as a vote between the lesser of two evils.

However, 50% of all voters believe, regardless of who they want to win, that the president is most likely to win the election.  Thirty-six percent (36%) see Romney as more likely to emerge on top. But the president’s 14-point lead on that question is down from the 20-point margin he had late last month. Meanwhile, voters are a little less sure that the GOP will keep control of the House and that Democrats will stay in charge in the Senate.

New poll numbers this week should make Republicans feel a bit less optimistic about winning the Senate. Democrat Tammy Baldwin has edged ahead of Republican Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin.  GOP incumbent Dean Heller is now in a near tie with Democrat Shelley Berkley in Nevada.  Both states have moved from Safe Republican to Toss-Ups in the Rasmussen Reports Senate Balance of Power rankings.  The Virginia Senate race remains a Toss-Up, but the contest in Ohio has shifted to Safe Democrat.  Incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson is still ahead in Florida.

Republicans lead Democrats by one point on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot after falling behind the week before for the first time since January.  Republicans have consistently held a modest advantage over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot since June 2009 with few exceptions.

The economy remains by far the top issue on voters’ minds as the November elections near.  Health care and government corruption are a distant second on a list of 10 top issues regularly surveyed by Rasmussen Reports.

Voters are evenly divided when asked if they fear the federal government will try to do too much or too little in reacting to the nation’s current economic problems.  However, those who fear the government will not do enough are not necessarily looking for a more activist government. Among those who want the government to do more, 46% want to see cuts in government spending.

Speaking of more government, the Federal Reserve Board announced last week that it will attempt to help the housing market by buying mortgages to keep interest rates at record lows. But only 20% of American Adults believe it is possible for targeted government programs to help the housing market.  Nearly half of Americans expect higher interest rates a year from now

Fewer than half (47%) of the nation’s homeowners continue to report that their home is worth more than what they still owe on the mortgage.  Overall attitudes about the housing market remain relatively pessimistic.

Nearly 60% of consumers and investors believe the United States is still in a recession.

National security remains low on the list of voter concerns, and most (58%) believe the United States should stay clear of the continuing protests in the Middle East.  But voters overwhelmingly rate protecting freedom of speech as more important than not offending other nations and cultures despite claims that the latest outbreak of anti-American violence is due to an amateur YouTube video that mocks Islam.

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In other surveys last week:

-- A majority of voters still supports repeal of the president’s national health care law and believes it will increase the federal deficit and the cost of health care.

-- Thirty-five percent (35%) of Likely Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction.  That’s the highest weekly finding since early April 2010.

-- Despite the controversy over requiring photo identification at the polls, voters overwhelmingly believe those who receive government services should be required first to show they are in this country legally.

-- As the Chicago teachers strike comes to a close, voters strongly believe the teachers should have kept working while their union contract was being negotiated.

-- Republican Pat McCrory has regained his double-digit advantage over Democratic Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton in the race to be North Carolina’s next governor.

-- More Americans turn to the world wide web to get their news nowadays, but nearly as many still think television news is the most reliable news source available.

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