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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending September 12, 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan writes this week about the growing divide between the elites and those they govern, and there was more proof of it in our latest polls.

Senate Democrats on Thursday successfully blocked a congressional vote on a resolution rejecting President Obama’s nuclear weapons deal with Iran. Apparently it doesn’t matter that 66% of voters believe any agreement the Obama administration makes with Iran regarding the Iranian nuclear program should be approved by Congress before taking effect.

Sixty-two percent (62%) think Iran is unlikely to uphold its end of the deal that ends some economic sanctions on that country in exchange for cutbacks in the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Both these findings have held steady for several months.

Similarly, the president announced late Thursday that the United States will take in up to 10,000 Middle Eastern migrants to help alleviate the illegal immigration crisis now besetting Europe. Again, no consultation with Congress was deemed necessary even though voters by a 50% to 36% margin don’t like the idea of bringing the migrants here (14% are undecided).

The president's decision comes at a time when the country is embroiled in a major political debate over immigration. Eighty percent (80%) of voters have a favorable opinion of immigrants who come to the United States to work hard, support their families and pursue the American Dream. The problem is far fewer (54%) now believe that's the agenda most immigrants have in mind.

Those opposed to allowing the Middle Eastern migrants into the United States fear that violent Islamic extremists will enter the country as well. Coincidentally, while Americans yesterday honored the 14th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, belief that the terrorists are winning the long-running War on Terror is near an all-time high.

Most Americans agree that Islamic terrorism is now a bigger threat inside the United States,  and a plurality (47%) believes the U.S. government focuses too little on this potential threat.

The president’s daily job approval ratings remain in the negative teens.

Positive ratings for Congress, meanwhile, have fallen back into single digits for the first time since Republicans took over both the House and Senate in January.  Interestingly, GOP voters are more unhappy with the Congress than Democrats are.

Speaking of the divide between the governed and those who govern, a lot of Republicans think Jeb Bush has more in common with Hillary Clinton than he does with the average voter in his own party.  Just 41% of GOP voters think the former Florida governor is likely to win the Republican presidential nomination next year, compared to 62% who say Donald Trump is likely to be the nominee in our latest Trump Change survey.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of all voters think Hillary Clinton and Obama hold similar views on most major policy issues. Voters trust Trump more than Clinton when it comes to handling the critical issues of the economy and national security.

Only 27% of voters think the United States is headed in the right direction.

Dwindling confidence in personal finances has consumers holding on to their wallets a little tighter this month.

In other surveys last week:

-- Voters express little sympathy for the Kentucky county clerk who refuses to give out wedding licenses to gay couples on religious grounds.

-- Is there a right way and a wrong way to honor our past? Who should make that call? We decided to find out what America thinks.

-- The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is set to be revamped soon following reports that scores across the country have fallen to troubling lows. Do Americans think poor SAT scores really mean poor students? Keep in mind: Only 23% of voters think most high school graduates have the skills needed for college.

-- What do Americans think of Stephen Colbert who made his debut last week as the host of CBS-TV’s The Late Show?

-- Summer’s over in the minds of many Americans now that the Labor Day weekend is past.

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