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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending September 6, 2014

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Republicans hope they can ride voter unhappiness with Obamacare all the way to control of Congress, but how big a problem is the health care law for Democrats really?

There’s no question that most voters still don’t like the law, as they’ve expressed in regular surveying since its passage by Congress in March 2010. At the same time, the number of Americans who are buying health insurance through the newly established health care exchanges is steadily growing.

Voter sentiment is shifting away from complete repeal. As recently as last December, 50% wanted to repeal the health care law, while 31% thought Congress should review the law piece by piece and improve it. Now those numbers are reversed: Nearly half of voters think Congress should fine tune the law rather than repeal it entirely, although most still feel repeal is likely if Republicans take charge. 

We’ve been asking voters regularly for months whether they are more likely or less likely to vote for a congressman who voted for Obamacare. They remain closely divided. But incredibly, one-in-three don’t know if their representative voted for the health care law or not. [Remember, though, only nine percent (9%) think most Americans are informed voters.]  

As we poll state by state, the potential impact of Obamacare becomes clearer. In Colorado and Louisiana, for example, the law is even more unpopular than it is nationally, so for incumbent Democratic Senators Mark Udall and Mary Landrieu, it’s a problem. 

Obamacare’s unpopularity in Kentucky is good news for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who’s fighting off a spirited challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. 

In safely Republican Oklahoma, the law is highly disliked, and GOP Congressman James Lankford has a two-to-one lead in the special Senate race there.  

In Oregon, on the other hand, the health care law is viewed more favorably. Although the Republican challenger who is a doctor has been pounding away at the law, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley has taken an even wider lead than the last time we checked. 

Check our latest video election update for these numbers and more.

President Obama isn’t much help in some states either. Just this week, North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan, one of the Senate’s most endangered incumbents, passed up a chance to be seen publicly with the president in her state.

Democrats running for reelection this year also are asking the president to delay his reported plan to grant amnesty to several million illegal immigrants without the approval of Congress. Most voters oppose that amnesty plan and think Congress should challenge Obama in court if he goes ahead with it.

The president’s daily job approval rating remains in the negative high teens. His monthly job approval rating held steady at 46% in August for the second month in a row and remains his lowest rating this year.

But Congress’ job approval ratings remain at record lows, too.

Republicans have just a one-point lead over Democrats on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot. The two parties have been separated by two points or less for most weeks this year.

The economy continues to send mixed signals, so it’s unclear what impact, if any, it will have on the elections. The Rasmussen Employment Index which measures worker confidence reached a new all-time high in August after falling for two months in a row. But then Friday’s jobs report was a disappointment, signaling a slowdown in growth.

Americans are a bit more optimistic about the current job picture and their future job prospects, but still just 29% think the unemployment rate will be lower in a year's time.

Coming out of the Labor Day weekend, the Rasmussen Investor Index which measures daily confidence among investors hit its highest level in seven years but then fell back. 

Burger King’s planned merger with a Canadian company that will lower its corporate taxes has the Obama administration and others crying foul and looking for ways to stop it. But  Americans don’t think the feds should be able to stop a company from moving to another country to reduce its tax load.

Nearly half of Americans recognize that the United States has higher corporate taxes than most other industrialized nations and think higher taxes on corporations hurt the economy.

Taking the focus off the upcoming elections, voters regard the radical Islamic terrorist group ISIS as a major threat to the United States and are very worried that the president doesn’t have a strategy for dealing with the problem.

That concern was further heightened this week with the second public beheading of a U.S. journalist by an ISIS terrorist. Nearly half of voters now support sending U.S. combat troops to Iraq to fight ISIS as part of an international coalition, but voters remain less enthusiastic about U.S. troops fighting alone.

Children nationwide are returning to school. Are parents ready?   Taxpayers spend $11,000 per student per year in America, and very few think they’re getting their money’s worth.

Support for the new national Common Core education standards has rebounded among parents of school-age children, but they still question whether it will improve academic performance. Common Core and other government-driven education efforts set universal excellence as their goal, but Americans overwhelmingly agree that no set of standards can ensure that all students reach the top.

In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-five percent (25%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- The race to be Arizona’s next governor is a dead heat.

-- Is the Internet killing public libraries?

-- Believe it or not, most Americans take pleasure in mowing their lawns.

-- Labor Day was originally established as a federal holiday in 1894 to honor working Americans, especially those in labor unions. But for most Americans, Labor Day means summer’s over instead.

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