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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Donald Trump show has been playing in at least three different cities this past week, while the rest of the nation watches with anticipation.

In New York City, Trump and his top aides continue to interview Cabinet candidates, with the president-elect filling key posts at a faster rate that most of his predecessors. Voters overwhelmingly believe that a president’s Cabinet is important to his administration’s success, but history shows that few voters are familiar with the names and activities of most Cabinet members.

Trump met again this past week with one prominent contender for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney, the failed Republican presidential nominee in 2016 and an outspoken Trump opponent this past election cycle. Voters aren’t so sure it’s a good idea, though, for a president to bring political foes onboard.

In Washington, D.C., Republican congressional leaders are working behind-the-scenes with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Trump’s transition team to hit the ground running as soon as the new president takes office in late January. Most voters expect big things from Trump and the Republican Congress right from the start but aren’t quite as optimistic as when Barack Obama and the Democrats took full charge in 2009.

In Cincinnati Thursday night, Trump held his first mass rally since Election Day, this time to thank Ohio voters for their support and to forcefully reiterate his coming agenda.

On the heels of Trump’s announcement earlier in the day that Carrier will not be leaving Indiana for Mexico, voters predict Trump will be a better jobs president than the man he is replacing.

Trump has assured Americans that his wide array of business dealings around the world won’t impact his decisions as chief executive, but 60% of voters are concerned that Trump’s business interests will influence his decisions during his presidency, including 44% who are Very Concerned. The president-elect announced this week that he is turning full management of his businesses over to his children.

Trump ran as an outsider candidate promising to “drain the swamp” of Washington, DC, but most Republicans (57%) are concerned that he won’t change things enough. Seventy-six percent (76%) of Democrats fear he will change things too much. Unaffiliated voters are much more closely divided in their concerns about the new president's policy direction.

Most voters think a presidential vote recount in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan is unlikely to reverse Trump’s victory.

Still struggling to explain Trump's surprise win, Democrat Hillary Clinton and many of her supporters first blamed FBI Director James Comey. But 60% of all voters agreed with the FBI’s decision to go public about its reopening of its Clinton e-mail investigation less than two weeks before Election Day.

In recent days, some of Clinton’s supporters have turned to what they are calling “fake news” on social media sites, insisting that the deliberate spreads of false information may have been a deciding factor. Fifty-five percent (55%) of Americans believe it is at least somewhat likely that fake news sites on the internet impacted the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, with 27% who say it’s Very Likely.

It is important to note, however, that Rasmussen Reports did not list or define "fake news sites" in its question. Voters have been critical all year of what they view as the biased and incorrect reporting by many major media sites including perhaps most prominently the New York Times. Just 30% of voters rate the media coverage of this year’s presidential campaign as good or excellent,  and only 29% trust media fact-checking of candidates’ comments.

Most voters didn’t buy the Democrats’ story that the Russians were trying to manipulate the election for Trump but thought the U.S. media was trying to swing things for Clinton.

While it’s been a contentious year politically speaking, most Americans aren’t avoiding political discussions altogether when they spend time with family and friends this holiday season.

Jury selection is underway in the federal trial of Dylann Roof who stands accused of the shooting deaths of a pastor and eight parishioners in a black Charleston, South Carolina church last year. Most Americans believe Roof deserves the death penalty if found guilty.

Confidence in U.S. race relations hit an all-time low earlier this year, but most don’t think Americans are inherently racist.

In other surveys last week:

-- Thirty percent (30%) of voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- President Obama earned a monthly job approval of 54% in November, unchanged from October and  tying his highest overall approval rating since January 2013 just after his reelection to a second term. His daily job approval ratings remain at the highest levels of his presidency.

-- Just over half (52%) of voters consider themselves pro-choice, but 50% also still view abortion as morally wrong in most cases.

-- Fidel Castro died last week at the age of 90, but voters here still have an overwhelmingly unfavorable opinion of the longtime Cuban dictator as they have had in surveys for years.

-- Has Cyber Monday taken the place of Black Friday for holiday shoppers?

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